County will save more than $900K on bond refi

The Gilmer Commission Board approved the refinancing of general obligation bonds in a special meeting last week and saved $969,000, according to a bond attorney who attended the session.

“We had a final little group of (general obligation) bonds that were eligible to be refunded. This is essentially the last batch of them,” Chairman Charlie Paris said. 

“We couldn’t just do them all at once, we had to wait until the date comes up on them.”

The bonds were approved in 2007, Paris said during the meeting.

Jon Pannell of Gray, Pannell and Woodward, an Atlanta law firm that specializes in municipal bonds, gave a recap of the savings by refinancing

“As background, if you remember, we refinanced a large portion of the 2007 bonds last year, or at the end of 2015,” he said. 

“But there were two maturities that through private placement we just couldn’t include into the refinancing just because of the bank.”

Pannell said the bond package that was put together by his office and the help of county finance officer, Sandi Holden, would be sold with a double-A minus rating and a “net savings of $969,000 to the county.”

Pannell said the bond refinancing will close on April 26, based on the board’s passage date of March 22. He also shared a handout of the county’s history of savings on bond refis.

Bonds refunded and gross savings:

﹣ 2005A — $1,803,368

﹣ 2007 GO (general obligation,
refi I) — $1,472,679

﹣ 2007 GO (refi II) — $969,000

﹣ 2008A & B — $530,801

﹣ Total gross savings — $4,775,848

Paris was asked Monday if any of the bonds were related to the construction of the courthouse.

“No, that (courthouse) was primarily the 2005-A revenue bonds issued by the building authority,” he said in an email to the Times-Courier

“These are the remainder of the bonds that were approved by the voters in 2006. They were used toward completion of the 2006 Gilmer County Capital Projects Plan. This included the new jail, new animal shelter, new fire stations, roads and bridges and new airport terminal building.”  

Paris said in a phone conversation Monday the county still owes $50 million on the courthouse construction. 

“Now that’s the principle,” he specified. 

“By the time it’s paid out, of course, it will be up in the $90s (million). We do two payments a year. In fact, we just made one payment (last week), our March payment, that will be principle and interest. And in October, we’ll make just an interest payment.”

The last SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) county voters approved — to pay principle and interest on bonds and county equipment purchases — was in 2015. They are typically for six years. 

“It’s restrictive in that we can only use SPLOST money to pay for the bonds and other things mentioned in the SPLOST referendum,” Paris said. 

An executive session followed the bond refi passage involving legal issues, with no action taken by the board at this time. Georgia Open Records Act guidelines allow government bodies to meet in closed session to discuss personnel, real estate or legal issues.

If a government body takes a vote and makes a decision on the executive session matter, it must be in open session after the board reconvenes the public meeting.

Times Courier

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