County has spent $1.77M of $3M loan

Published 9:32 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

County Administrator Gary Breedlove said Tuesday that the county’s recently-signed Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) loan has already helped fill several immediate financial needs.

At the regular meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night, Breedlove explained that the county signed the $3 million loan with Port City Bank, on June 22. So far, it has spent approximately $1.8 million of the loan.

The county used $444,000 to make a payment on the narrowband upgrade to its E911 communications system on June 22; $775,000 to make a payment on the SPLOST V bond on June 27; $100,000 for payroll on July 5; and $450,000 for payroll and accounts payable on July 18. The total drawdowns from the loan, as of Tuesday night, are approximately $1.77 million. Approximately $1.23 million remains in the TAN loan’s balance.

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A TAN loan is a low-interest loan used by municipalities to meet immediate financial needs. It uses expected future property tax revenues as collateral, and must be repaid in full within one year.

Breedlove said Tuesday that the county would be under some financial strain in August, because there are three pay periods rather than the normal two. However, he said the remaining money in the TAN loan will be able to alleviate some of that strain.

In addition, the county recently used a buyback program through John Deere to take out $146,000 in cash that could be used to meet immediate expenses. Those funds would have to be repaid over the next five years, at 2.3 percent interest, a rate that is even lower than the current TAN loan’s rate.

In other business, the county:

• Approved spending $5,000 each for three used vehicles that were declared surplus by the Georgia Department of Transportation. According to a property transfer form presented to the commissioners, the vehicles are still in “fair” condition and each has more than 106,000 miles but fewer than 116,000 miles.

Public Works Director Dennis Medley said the vehicles would be used as buses to transfer county inmate work crews, and also hold the necessary tools needed for projects. He said the purchase would be a benefit to the county, because it will lower the current maintenance costs required to keep up the current crop of vehicles. Also, the county will recover some of the $15,000 when it sells the three older buses.

The commissioners approved the purchase unanimously.

• Heard from several different citizens who signed up for public participation.

Kelly Godwin asked the commissioners several questions about the T-SPLOST and regional commissions. Breedlove explained to Godwin that the county pays its annual $16,000 dues to the regional commission on a quarterly basis, and has already made the first payment of the fiscal year.

Godwin also questioned whether the county employees could pay a higher share of their benefits; she said the county employees pay 10 percent of their insurance costs and make no contribution toward their retirement pension. Breedlove said that she was correct, but also pointed out that 80 percent of county employees make less than $35,000 per year, and all county employees have gone four years without a raise.

Claude Shirley cautioned the county to take its time before signing any contract to take garbage from the municipalities of the City of Tallahassee, Fla., or Leon County, Fla.

“We should negotiate a fair rate that is in our best interest,” he said.

Bert Stein provided the county a petition that had been signed by 400 citizens, who are in favor of naming the new agriculture building after Tommy Wheeler, a longtime county extension agent.

Larry D. Smith thanked the county for its assistance in helping homeowners with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s hazard mitigation buyout program. The program was intended to partially reimburse homeowners whose property has been repeatedly damaged during floods, with some of the assistance coming from the federal government and some from the federal government.

However, Smith said the homeowners have been waiting three years for response from FEMA, and said recent assistance by the county’s commissioners has finally resulted in some action.

Ted Snell suggested that casinos could be used as a way to bring revenue into southwest Georgia.