Commission seeks to save $400k on bond

Published 8:51 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

“It is truly a win/win situation,” said Ken C. Funderburk, executive vice president of Merchant Capital, of an effort by the Lowndes County Commission to save between $300,000 and $400,000 by refunding series 2005 bonds.

The commission also recently heard about a potential business that could employ up to 85 people while making use of the entire top floor of the Hayneville Plaza, as well as voted to collect rent from tenants not paying rent at the Hayneville Plaza.

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At its Monday, Nov. 26 meeting, the commission authorized Funderburk and Barry A. Staples of Maynard, Cooper & Gayle PC to begin the process to refund 2005 bond issues with the understanding that the commission can change its mind without being charged.

According to information provided by Funderburk, the interest rate on the Series 2005 bonds is 4.46 percent. As of Nov.  26, the “current rate assumption” was 3 percent.

Funderburk provided information that projected savings net of expenses would be in excess of $400,000 with a “target savings range between $300,000 and $400,000,”

Funderburk also provided information that the general obligation would be the same as the original terms and the final maturity would be 2035 “same as original series.”

As the commission previously voted to hold approval of proposals heard at one meeting until the following meeting, the commission unanimously voted to suspend the rules to consider the action.

The commission also unanimously approved Merchant Capital to move forward to look at refinancing the 2005 bonds on the condition that if the commission should change its mind, there would be no fees changed.

“If you did not do the deal, I would have to assume it would be for some valid reason,” Funderburk said. “But whatever the reason is, if you decided not to do it, then we would fold our briefcase and wait for another day and there would be no fee incurred for our services,” he said. And Staples agreed.

Funderburk stressed the estimated $400,000 would be net to the county after expenses.  He said the saving could be returned in one of two ways, “either reduce your annual payment every year from now until 2035 or you can elect to keep your payment the exact same… and take your savings whatever they may be when the bonds market up front in one lump sum.”

When asked, Staples said the funds could be used to acquire property, construct buildings, for repairs to existing facilities, roads and equipment.

The commission also heard from Oscar Boykin, who requested access to the Hayneville Plaza to determine the cost to make the entire top floor usable for a business.

Boykin said he located to Hayneville four months ago and began looking for locations to start a business.

He said his idea would be have a corporate office on the top floor where companies such as AT&T and other big corporations would have customers call people at his office to collect payments or trouble shoot certain types of financial situations that “could be handled over the phone.”

Commission Chairman Robert Harris said he would provide Boykin access to the building.

Boykin said he would need the entire top floor — some 10,000 square feet — for about 85 employees.

In another matter, Commissioner Carnell McAlpine said he was concerned about tenants not paying rent at the Hayneville Plaza.

The commission unanimously approved his motion to have Attorney Hank Sanders write a letter to those tenants who are not paying rent at the Hayneville Plaza and to set a rate for rent for those tenants.