By Jack Mayne A few years ago, Des Moines was on the brink of financial ruin with borrowing rates heading upward, but what a difference a few years makes. The City Council was told at its meeting Thursday night (March 28) it has won a financial award for its rejuvenated finances. City Manager Michael Matthias told the Des Moines City Council that the state auditor complimented the city for leadership and “the city for leadership of the City Council and the city manager for setting the tone from the top to adhere to and comply with the best financial management practices,” Matthias said that the once financially stressed Des Moines now has in the past year a “Government Finance Officers Association award for preparation of our comprehensive annual financial report” and also a three step upgrade from Standard and Poor. Lower city borrowing costs Caitlin Caldwell (pictured, left), vice president of KeyBanc Capital Markets updated the Council on another bond upgrade from Moodys which gave the city a saving of over a half million dollars, said Matthias. She said the Moody rating was lower than other so Matthias and Finance Director Beth Ann Wroe explained the way the city is upgrading its management and practices. Then, said Caldwell, “they did decide to upgrade the city one notch.” That should lower future borrowing costs for Des Moines. Why only one notch up? Caldwell said rating services tend to more financial ratings down very quickly, but up very slowly “they want to see continued growth, see that sustained plan but if we continue to stay in front of them, continue to tell our story, we may see continued upward growth” and the city is “trending in the right direction.” Angle Lake to downtown A program to continue service between Angle Lake and downtown for two more years was approved as a consent agenda item by the Council on Thursday night. Cost will be split, with Metro paying 82 percent and Des Moines paying 18 percent of the cost. The city has said its long term goal is a permanent route. Public Works Project Manager Len Madsen told Council of improvements to the Des Moines Community Shuttle system that links the Metro Transit Angle Lake Station with downtown Des Moines so that people can use public transit to reach the somewhat inaccessible city downtown from areas of concentrated employment, especially the Des Moines Business Park. The weekday route has been operating for the past year, Madsen said. The city met with Metro to see if the service could be expanded for all day service and not just peak hours. The city also seek He said now service is running every 15 minutes between around 5:20 a.m. in the morning and around 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to about 7 p.m. The proposed additional service would be midday and Saturday every half hour. That would increase would close the gap in service for seniors and others trying to get to and from downtown. Saturday service will begin from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in September. Metro suggested extending the special service agreement to a full two years to test its need. Getting people from city employment centers to its waterfront downtown has long been a problem for the city. “We believe it is going to increase overall productivity of the route,” said Madsen.]]>