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Commission sets public hearing for Ft. Deposit bond

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
The Lowndes County Commission will hold its next regular meeting and a public hearing for the possible refinance of a bond issue for the town of Fort Deposit on Tuesday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m.
The commission informally agreed to work with Fort Deposit toward the refinancing of its bond at the commission’s regular meeting held Monday. But the commission wants a cap on its obligation and a share of tax revenues beyond what is needed to pay off bond.
At issue was a tax abatement granted by the county to Fort Deposit on tax revenues from the Sejong property. The county contended that the abatement was for five years to be reviewed after that, but Fort Deposit contended that the abatement was for the entire length of the bond indenture, which was 30 years.
The town now wants to refinance the bond for another five years, which would extend it from the current 25 years to 30 years again.
The agreement to work with Fort Deposit and the vote to hold the public hearing followed a question and answer session between the commissioners and Fort Deposit town attorney Arlean Richardson.
Also representing Fort Deposit were Mayor Fletcher Fountain and Water and Sewer Board Chairman Barry Robinson.
“So, I can’t see how the obligation that was made by the city of Fort Deposit didn’t coincide with what the county commission agreed upon within its meeting,” said Commissioner Robert Harris.
“That is not how the funding agreements are written,” said Richardson.
“I do know that the funding agreement and the bond indenture was for the entire length of the bond issue…that’s the signed document,” she said.
She said the funding agreements were with the County Commission, the waterworks and sewer board, the cooperative district of Fort Deposit, the Industrial Board of Fort Deposit and the town of Fort Deposit.
“Had you not signed the bond indenture then those people who bought the bonds would never have entered into it,” added Fountain.
“But there is noting in the funding agreement between the county, likewise the town, the waterworks that would allow a review,” said Richardson.
“We can’t change what’s already been done…,” she said. “The bright side is that if we can refinance we can correct a lot of these issues that we have with this bond since we started with it. And we could write into the indenture that it’s capped at a certain amount. Anything over that would go to the county.”
Harris said when questions are asked, the perception is that one is against something.
“That is not the case, especially coming from me,” he said. “The question has to be asked because we are elected by the people and are supposed to be good stewards. And that’s what I’m trying my best to do, as well.”
Commissioner Dickson Farrior said, “I think being the county is obligated, there is no question about that. And now the question is we renew it and then put a cap on it, there’s the possibility the county could get some revenue out of it; Fort Deposit solve their problem, and everybody wins.”
The commission asked David Butts, county engineer, to look into a request by county resident Patricia McCord to purchase a strip of land from the county at the rear of her property.
Butts reported that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has given the county the go ahead to cleanup a dump in District One.
Farrior asked that the sheriff review applications for alcohol licenses.
In actions taken, the commission,
•Approved the selling of dump trucks.
•Approved the promotion of an assistant mechanic to mechanic on a six-month probationary period at starting pay for a mechanic.
•Approved the consent agenda items including the minutes, invoices, an appropriation of $2,700 for Higher Vision, appointment of Arlean Allen to the SCA Regional Housing Authority, an appropriation of $2,500 to the STEP program, an appropriation of $1,000 to Hayneville Park and Recreation, approval of GeoConex Corp. E911 equipment if money is available and payment of the lawsuit in Bozeman versus Lowndes County (legal fees allowed by the court).
•Approved a off premises beer and table wine license for the Shoppers Stop 211 (the BP at 80 and 97).
•Approved Stephen B. Logan, Percy D. Bell and Uralee Haynes as members of the Mosses Water Board.