Fort Deposit seeks grant

Published 10:44 am Thursday, May 17, 2012

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Fort Deposit Town Council will seek a Community Development Block grant to build a new senior citizens center and approved an ordinance to use public funds to pay off a $1.7 million loan to First Citizens Bank in connection with its industrial park off Highway 185.

With Council member Elbert Lee Means voting no, the Fort Deposit Town Council approved a resolution to seek $250,000 in CDBG funds through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to build a new senior center.

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Tiffany P. Horton, a grant writer with the South Central Alabama Development Commission, said if the grant is approved, the town will donate land valued at $22,000 and put up $20,000 in matching funds.

In a special meeting held last November, the council approved settlement terms regarding its $1.7 million loan with First Citizens Bank in connection with the town’s industrial park.

The ordinance to use public funds to pay a portion of the debt of the Cooperative District of the Town of Fort Deposit, which was approved Monday night, will have to be published for one month before it becomes effective, Mayor Fletcher Fountain said.

By way of background, according to Fountain, the town of Fort Deposit got a grant to improve the industrial park with sewer and water.

But he said the grant had a “shortfall.” He said to cover the shortfall, the town borrowed money from First Lowndes Bank.

He explained that First Citizens Bank acquired First Lowndes Bank along with the debt and is allowing the town to pay $600,000 to clear the debt at $30,000 a year.

Last November, Fountain said the word went out that the town was going to be foreclosed upon regarding its debt to First Citizens Bank, but CEO William Petrey stated at that time the town was not in foreclosure.

It was pointed out Monday night that this year’s $30,000 payment has already been paid. Fountain said the ordinance to use public funds to pay the debt was necessary “because we are taking over the debt from the cooperative district.”

With Council member Means abstaining, the council approved the ordinance, which will be published for one month.

In separate matter, the Lowndes County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to allow the town of Fort Deposit to receive the ad valorem taxes (an average of about $70,000 per year) from the property in the industrial park pending the refinancing of its bond issue.

According to the resolution read by Commissioner Joseph Barganier, “It is beneficial to all Lowndes County citizens that the said bond be refinanced to stabilize the situation on the current bond.”

Fountain said no action has been taken by the city to refinance its bond issue, which is a completely separate obligation from the loan.

Council member Irish Simmons was absent from Monday night’s Fort Deposit Council meeting.