Camden Town Council put increased principal payments for its Town Hall lease each month on hold because finance officer Patrick Cullen was absent from Monday night's meeting in the Camden Municipal Complex.
Cullen's absence was excused because he had a family emergency to tend to, Camden Mayor W.G. Edmanson said. Shortening the life of the 40-year lease of the Municipal Complex was one of the platforms upon which Edmanson campaigned in 2012.
"I was very much looking forward to discussing this with Patrick," he said. "But, life happens."
Cullen first discussed having the town pay extra money toward the principal of the unusually long lease back in August 2012. That was when he advised council against costly refinancing and explained that simply paying extra each month given the surplus in the town's $1.9 million budget would shorten the time left on the loan as well as the interest paid.
Council revisited the matter at its October 2012 meeting.
Camden at this point was 42 months into a $3 million, 40-year loan with a fixed interest rate mortgage rate of 4.375 percent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But, among other things, Camden would have needed a reappraisal of its town hall in a real estate market that had trended downward in recent years in order to refinance.
Camden currently has a monthly mortgage payment of $13,246. But, Camden would save $1.365 million in interest and cut the life of the loan by 14.33 years if it paid an extra $3,000 per month, it, Cullen had said. The town would save almost $1.1 million in interest and cut the life of the loan by 11 years if it paid an extra $2,000 per month, he said.
But with Cullen absent Monday night, Edmanson preferred to table the matter until March 4.
"I hate to belabor the point, but we owe it to us and to the next generation," he said. "Slowly but surely, folks, we're setting it straight."
In other financial matters, Councilman Larry Dougherty recommended that $125,500 be transferred from the town's money market account for budget expenses to its savings account to bring the latter to an even $500,000. That would give Camden three months' worth of expenses put away, Dougherty said.
Camden would still have enough money left to cover the balance of the $1.9 million 2013 fiscal year budget's expenses, he said.
Town Solicitor Craig Eliassen, of the Schmittinger & Rodriguez firm, said this was an accounting procedure within the purview of Cullen, but council was entitled to express its opinion on the matter.
As such, Edmanson instructed new Town Clerk Jamie Fenske to send Cullen an email expressing council's desire to see the transfer to the savings account and to procure a better interest rate, including converting the savings account into a money market.