Attorneys expected to hash out agreement on airport debt

Published 12:01 am Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ronnie Kearns of Kearns Group recently brought a C-130 to one of the twin hangars for maintenance. |  File photo

Ronnie Kearns of Kearns Group recently brought a C-130 to one of the twin hangars for maintenance. |
File photo

Attorneys representing the cities of Andalusia and Opp, the Covington County Commission and the South Alabama Regional Airport Authority met Wednesday to come up with an agreement to assume their portion of the airport bond issue.

The Covington County Commission was set to vote on the resolution and agreement yesterday, but Chairman Bill Godwin asked that it be taken off the agenda.

“The agreement is for each one of the entities to assume their portion of the bond, and you wouldn’t be responsible for the other entities jointly and separately,” Godwin said, in explaining the existing agreement. “We have to be responsible for our part. If somebody else doesn’t pay, then we have to assume their part. We’re trying to get that done, and then if we do that, then each one can select the number of years they want to issue the bond for.”

Godwin said since the county has a better bond rating, their finances will come cheaper than the other two entities.

Earlier this month, the city of Opp and the commission reserved the right not to pay their portion of the July debt because the airport authority has the funds to pay the debt service on the bond issue since it learned the Kearns Group is paying $25,000 a month for space at one of the twin hangars at SARA.

Godwin said having the Kearns Group in the hangars helps.

“Anytime you’ve got somebody in those buildings, they pay a lease payment,” he said. “It may not be sufficient to cover the whole bond payment, but it would help. For us to make the bond payments, we have to take it out of our operating revenues. This started last October. The county’s already paid $200,000. If we have to go for a full year, we’d be paying close to $500,000 a year in bond payments with no source of revenue except our regular county revenue.

“We just feel like and think that the lease payments should at least got to the bond payments,” he said. “If it’s not sufficient, then we’ll make up the difference.”

Without the agreement, Godwin said the county will not go into the bond market.

“We’ve got our ducks lined up, but we will not go into the bond market without an agreement,” he said.

The commission will vote on the agreement at a special called meeting on Wed., July 22, at 8:30 a.m.