County to proceed with refinance

Published 12:01 am Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Covington County Commission on Wednesday authorized Chairman Bill Godwin to move forward with a bond issue to refinance the county’s portion of the airport debt.

Godwin said in the current arrangement, the county commission guaranteed bonds jointly and separately.

A new bond issue will allow the commission to be responsible for its share of the $12 million-plus debt, and would be separate from the other entities, which include the city of Andalusia and the city of Opp.

“We gave (Frazier Lanier) authorization to go into the bond market to see what we could get the bonds for,” he said.

The commission selected Frazier Lanier as the underwriter for its part in paying down the debt in May. The bonds currently are held by the airport authority and are secured by the county and the cities of Andalusia and Opp.

The airport bonds are set to be callable in August and the total debt is $12.02 million, which includes two bonds from 2006, a PNC Bank loan from 2011 and a Covington Electric loan. One of the two bonds from 2006 represents nearly $800,000 in old airport debt from the early 1990s.

Most of the debt was incurred in the construction of hangars for industries or industrial prospects, which are located on airport property. However, neither the property nor the structures will be used as collateral in the proposed restructuring of the debt. The proposed new bond issues will leave the airport free and clear of all debt, Covington County Economic Development Director Rick Clifton said previously.

Godwin said the commission will later determine how many years they’d like the bond proposal to run.

In other business, the commission:

• heard a report from Covington County Revenue Commissioner Janice Hart, who told commissioners that a total of $10,627,962.92 was dispersed to agencies who participate in the ad valorem tax.

• approved a $2,000 donation to the city of Florala for its new playground.

• approved out of state travel for the Covington County Sheriff’s Posse.

• agreed to participate in the 2015 “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday, which is Aug. 7-9.

• announced the July 2015 board appointments for the personnel review board. Willie S. Thomas and Virginia Brawner sit on the board, and the third member, an employee representative, is Diane Lee. There will be an employee election held.

• approved a resolution for a 2015 Community Development Block Grant for the Union Grove project.

• went into closed session to discuss litigation.

Godwin said the commission discussed different issues involving a legal matter.