More on bonds and repayment

After the article was published in the March 29 Times-Courier about how the Gilmer Commission Board will eventually save more than $900,000 on its latest bond refinancing, I felt that we needed to provide some clarification about the debt on the courthouse and on the bonds in general.

As of last week, and taking into account the latest bond refunding — as well as the other refundings — the total amount of outstanding debt on the bonds is $45.335 million, according to our county finance director, Sandi Holden. And that amount also includes improvements and refurbishments at the jail, library, fire stations and in other areas.

The $45.335 million is what’s left of the original $58.935 million issued in 2005, 2007 and 2008 bonds. The breakdown is as follows:

﹣ Revenue Bonds Series 2005A — $19.39 million (issued by the Gilmer County Building Authority) to pay for the cost, in whole or in part, of acquiring, constructing and equipping the Gilmer County Courthouse (without the commissioner’s wing).

﹣ Revenue Bonds Series 2005B — $2.045 million (Building Authority issue) to pay for the cost, in whole or in part, of acquiring, constructing and equipping the Gilmer County Library.

﹣ General Obligation Bonds Series 2007 — $30 million (by voter referendum) to pay the cost, in whole or in part, of the 2006 Gilmer County Improvement Plan including:

– Roads, streets, bridges and equipment therefore;

– Public safety facilities (fire stations);

– Parks and Recreation facilities (originally Clear Creek ballfields, but this was never fully funded from the general obligation, or GO, bonds);

– Improvements to the airport;

– Improvements to existing animal control facilities; and

– Acquisition of and payment for public safety equipment.

(The 2006 Gilmer County Improvement Plan listed over $60 million in proposed improvements, so the GO bonds were never intended to fund the entire plan.)

﹣ Revenue Bonds Series 2008A — $5.95 million (Building Authority issue) to provide funds for the completion of construction and equipping of Phase II of the Gilmer County Courthouse (commissioner’s wing) and the construction of parking facilities in the vicinity of the courthouse in downtown Ellijay.

﹣ Revenue Bonds Series 2008B — $1.55 million (Building Authority issue) to provide funds for the costs of renovating, constructing and equipping the former Gilmer County Library for use by Dalton State College and the construction of parking facilities in the vicinity of the library.

At times in the past, I’ve spoken in approximate figures, but these are the actual figures and breakdown of purposes. The almost $59 million in bonds were issued at 5 percent interest. Much like a mortgage, this much money for this length of time means that the total cost after interest was approximately $100 million. 

We’ve paid the original principle down to just over $45 million, so we still owe most of this. When interest rates dropped dramatically, the county began the process of refunding the bonds at the lower interest rates available, as the bonds became eligible for refunding. Different bonds became eligible at different times, thus the multiple bond refundings representing the total of $4.77 million in interest savings.

I hope this breakdown is helpful for county taxpayers — and visitors who contribute to our tax revenue — to see how their money is being spent. And just as importantly, how debt to cover the many improvements for services through necessary agencies (law enforcement, fire protection, education, recreation, animal control, etc.) is being repaid.

Charlie Paris was elected chairman of the commission board in 2014.

Times Courier

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1076
Ellijay, GA. 30540

Phone: 706-635-4313
Fax: 706-635-7006