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PE Is Weighing New Financing

PRINCE EDWARD – County supervisors have scheduled a work session for 3 p.m. September 6 to weigh long-term financing on several fronts.

On tap for the board:

*Possible refinancing of construction of the courthouse. The County has about $4.235 million in bonds outstanding used to finance the construction, but with the decline in interest rates, County Administrator Wade Bartlett believes they can save a substantial amount by refinancing the bonds.

*The County has drawn down $3,750,000 on a line of credit (with the purchase of water service lines south of Town and a near-complete water project study). While the budget factors permanent financing, the board has the option of short-term borrowing. The current line of credit matures on November 30.

*And the board has received bids on an alternate Rt. 628 project south of the school. While revenue sharing funds are factored, it was cited that the worst-case scenario would have the county spending about $2.1 million, although Bartlett cited that there are various actions that could reduce that figure greatly. (If they can coordinate the project closely with VDOT plans to improve the section of Rt. 15 in the same area, they could save about $500,000 in local costs.)

While the board may not opt for long-term financing for all three, collectively, if the County did so using Virginia Resource Authority (VRA) financing, the cost of issuance would be about $104,600 with a maximum total cost of financing at $11,039,625.

“…VRA has two financing pools each year-a spring and a fall. The fall application deadline, which is a preliminary deadline, is August the 12th…”

Bartlett noted that what they ask for at that point is an idea of the various local governments that may want to join so they can get an idea of the size of the pool.

“You do not have to commit until September 16,” Bartlett said. “And even at that time, you can still withdraw from the pool as late as about mid-October. But if you withdraw after September the 16th, the locality could be invoiced for any third party professional services-legal bond attorneys, that kind of thing that would result…for a withdrawn application.”

Bartlett recommended the work session and the board concurred. Supervisors also agreed to authorize the County administrator to submit a preliminary application to the VRA in an amount not to exceed $11,039,625.

More On Rt. 628

While not set on construction, supervisors had earlier agreed-working with the engineering firm of Hurt & Proffit-to seek construction bids for the alternate route. The project could cut down on traffic through the county's school complex by providing an alternate access to Rt. 15 and reconnecting with the existing road east of the school and add a turning lane on Rt. 15.

The County has $2 million in revenue sharing (half of which are county funds) and $500,000 from VDOT to ensure that upgrades at the intersection would not have to be redone once VDOT does their upgrades to Rt. 15.

Ten firms submitted bids with Haymes Brothers, Inc. of Chatham the apparent low bidder. Their base bid was $2,628,790.25 with $147,469 for alternate one (moving excess soil and topsoil from the project site and stockpiling on the property behind Lowe's) and $48,686.70 for option two (building the turn lanes and entrance stub-out for the Granite Falls Conference Center).

The total project cost was projected at $3,619,528.06, which factored a ten percent contingency and acquisition of right of way (though Bartlett noted the exact amount for that is to be determined).

Hurt and Proffitt recommended the project be awarded to the firm. Still, there are factors that could reduce the cost and Bartlett recommended that they have a work session to talk about the project, it will be wrapped into the financing discussion work session September 6.

While the County – which has long eyed the alternate route – could choose to build the road on it's own, they could also look to the developer of the planned Granite Falls Inn project (which would be accessed by the new road) to chip in through tax increment financing should that project become a reality.

Board members will look for an update of that project when they hold their work session.

The County's financial consultant is also expected to be on hand.