County adminstrations have opposing opinions on refinance

Published 8:47 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Members of the current and incoming county administrations have opposing thoughts about the county’s upcoming decision on whether or to 7 refinance more than $7 million in current debt and borrow an additional $2 million for road projects.

Commissioners have said they need the cash to match state grants for which they are applying through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP). The county has not officially been awarded any monies from the state.

District 1 Commissioner David Ellis, who will be replaced by Ken Northey in November, said refinancing and taking the additional revenue is the only way the county can afford to resurface roads and build new bridges.

“If there is $8 million or so that is going to be given away, we can find matching funds,” Ellis said. “But refinancing is the only way we can get money to get the resurfacing done in this county. If we don’t qualify for the (ATRIP) money, then we don’t need to borrow it, but it may be time to pull the trigger (on the refinancing.)”

The man who will lead the new administration, which is set to take office in November, says, “no” to new debt.

“We don’t need to borrow new money,” incoming Commission Chairman Bill Godwin said. “The county has made progress in getting its financial house in order, but we’re not there yet.”

Godwin said he believes in reducing the county’s overall debt, not adding to it.

“If we borrow any new money, we have to extend the bond for more years to pay for it,” he said. “And that’s not paying down our debt. That’s incurring more debt.”

Proposals from two Alabama investment bankers show the commission can capitalize on historically low interest rates. By refinancing most of its bonds, the county’s combined average interest rate on the two bond issues comprosing its long-term debt would drop from 4.66 percent to 3.65 percent. The lower rate allows the county to increase its indebtedness without increasing its debt payments; however, the life of the loan would be extended.

The county has two series of outstanding general obligation warrants, or bonds.


• Bridges over Easton Creek, Corner Creek, Taylor Mill Creek and Bay Branch;

• 3.26 miles of County Road 70 from County Road 77 to U.S. Hwy. 331;

• 15.7 miles of County Road 42 from the Conecuh county line to the Andalusia city limits;

• 3.11 miles of County Road 42 from County Road 77 to the Opp city limits;

• 5.1 miles of County Road 42 from U.S. Hwy. 84 to County Road 77;

• 3.9 miles of County Road 4 from State Road 54 to the Geneva county line;

• 2.4 miles of County Road 82 from County Road 49 to County Road 43;

• 3.11 miles of County Road 39 from U.S. Hwy. 29 to County Road 37; and,

• 1 mile of County Road 45 (Lindsey Bridge Road) from County Road 56 (Easley Road) to Head Farm Road.

Tuesday, he expanded that list to include:

• Straughn School Road from U.S. Hwy. 29 to the Crenshaw County line;

• County Road 70 from U.S. Hwy. 84 to U.S. Hwy. 29; and,

• County Road 4 in Wing from Alabama Hwy. 137 to state Hwy. 55.

The county would have to receive an ATRIP grant and borrow $2 million.