County appoints SPLOST bond board

Published 9:15 am Monday, November 3, 2008

At their Tuesday meeting, the Decatur County Board of Commissioners approved the appointment of a Bond Council and Bond Underwriters for the county’s SPLOST V funds.

Underwriters are securities dealers who help government entities bring bond issues to market—buying the bonds from the issuer and reselling them to investors. In doing so, they assume the financial risk in order to make a profit on the transaction.

“The SPLOST V referendum that was passed on Sept. 16 contained a provision for Decatur County to issue bonds for up to $12 million to proceed with several of the SPLOST projects,” Paul Soudi, county planning official, told the board.

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Soudi explained that having a bond underwriter allows for the county to be prepared to proceed with projects when interest rates are favorable—including preparing an official statement, legal documents and receiving a current bond rating.

“What we would like to be do is be prepared if and when the market is conducive,” Soudi said.

Soudi said several meeting were held with Morgan Keegan and Company and Merchants Capital with at least two commissioners attending each meeting. He recommended using Morgan Keegan as a bond underwriter and Jim Pannell of Gray and Pannell Attorneys at Law as bond counsel.

County Attorney Brown Moseley agreed, saying bond counsel is one of the more specialized areas of law and not something where you seek out the lowest bidder.

Soudi explained the reason a bond would be used for projects is, “Traditionally, inflation out paces the cost of what we can borrow our money for, and it’s in our best interest sometimes to go ahead with a project.”

He also said it is in the best interest to do projects as a whole instead of over a number of years.

Hiring of the two firms was approved by a 5-1 vote, Glenda Battle, participating via telephone, was opposed.

The board unanimously approved a certification for the closure of Beardsley Drive (also known as Edwards Drive), which dead ends in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property.

According to the certification, the west 223.35 feet of the road has ceased to be used by the public and serves no substantial purpose.

It was proposed that the land be sold to the adjacent property owners. A committee was created comprised of Butch Mosley, Brown Moseley and Tom Patton to meet with the property owners regarding the matter.

Commissioners also approved changing this year’s Christmas Holiday from Wednesday and Thursday to Thursday (Christmas day) and Friday.

In old business, commissioners unanimously approved an amendment to the annual contract with Johnson Controls, a Milwaukee, Wis., company that provides preventative maintenance services for the Decatur County Jail.

The amendment for the one-year contract was for $13,201 with a $1,500 rebate. The contract is down from $14,400 last year.

At the previous commissioners meeting, County Finance Director Carl Rowland attributed the price reduction for the previous year to the installation of two boilers at the jail, which he said solved a lot of problems.

In other old business, the board approved the final plat for a new cell phone tower located on property at 1555 Newton Road. The motion passed with a 5-1 vote, with Commissioner Gary Phillips opposing.