June 28, 2017 10:28:27 AM
If everything works out as planned, Lowndes County may be able to issues its funding for the Communiversity on a 10-year term, rather than for 20 years.
Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said he's still discussing the matter with bond attorneys, but it seems likely the $13.5 million for the regional workforce training center can go out in a split issue, which would allow Lowndes County to have a shorter repayment term than project partners Clay and Oktibbeha counties. Bond terms for all counties should include the same interest rate, he added.
The LINK is the contracted economic development firm for all three counties.
Last week, supervisors tabled approving a resolution that allow the process of issuing bonds for the project to move forward and asked Higgins to see if a shorter-term issue for Lowndes could work without hurting Oktibbeha and Clay.
East Mississippi Community College, which will run the Communiversity, will issue the bonds for the project on a 20-year repayment term. The bonds, once issued, will not count against each county's indebtedness cap.
Supervisors had originally considered whether the county could issue the money itself, but Higgins said that may not be necessary.
"I believe there's a way around this that nobody gets gored, everybody gets what they want to do and there's no harm, no foul, to anybody," he said.
The Communiversity is a roughly $44 million project, located on Highway 82 just west of PACCAR. The facility includes $13.5 million in local funding, with $10 million from Lowndes County, $2.5 million from Oktibbeha County and $1 million from Clay County. The project is also funded through $18 million in state money and $12.5 million in federal dollars.
If the split bond issue does work out, District 2 Supervisor Bill Brigham, who pushed to see a shorter repayment schedule at last week's board meeting, said he'd likely support a split issue.
Brigham said the shorter term would lead to higher payments but save the county money over time by it not having to pay extra interest.
"If it works out, yes, I'm for it," he said. "It can save us short of $2 million. You don't just throw money away when it's not necessary."
Board President Harry Sanders also expressed support for the split issue.
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