WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Two members of the Watertown city council are defending their vote Monday night to take nearly $3 million from the city’s fund balance - its savings - and spend it on a new pool at Thompson Park.
Council voted 3-2 Monday night to spend the money, despite warnings that the city will suffer financially as a result.
“We’ve been hearing the same worn out arguments for the past four years and it hasn’t swayed the public opinion and we were elected to do a job and it was to exercise the will of the people.,” council member Cody Horbacz, who led the drive to fund a new pool, said Tuesday.
“We think this is something the community has been asking for, for a long time. It kind of felt like a now or never moment for getting the Thompson Park pool built,” said Ryan Henry-Wilkinson, who voted to spend the money for the pool.
In a letter, City Comptroller James Mills advised council members that if fund balance money is used, the price the city pays to borrow money will go up, because the city’s credit rating will go down. For example if Watertown’s interest rate is now 3 percent, Mills believes it will go to 3.15 percent.
He calculated that the cost of upcoming capital projects - like a new city courtroom - will increase by an estimated $300,000.
Horbacz said Tuesday he isn’t worried about the city’s credit rating going down.
“We are not bonding for this project now, so there is going be a cost savings there and you are talking about a tenth of a point-on our interest rate. It’s pennies on the dollar,” he said.
Henry-Wilkinson said he recognizes the credit rating affects how much the city has to pay on interest rates.
“We are not blind to that, you know aren’t just completely ignoring that,” he said.
"We are weighing that against what the people who elected us to be here want us to do. "