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$1M in bonds could be issued

If borrowing more than $1 million could mean savings long-term for the county plus financing a wish list of upgrades, the county commissioners plan to participate in the County Treasurer’s Neighborhood Investment Program.

The commission is considering asking County Treasurer Stephen Burcham if he will lend them approximately $1,064,000 at 2 percent interest rate. Through the investment program, the county treasurer buys bonds issued by a governmental entity at an interest rate lower than what could be acquired at a bank and more than what the county currently gets on its certificates of deposit.

Projects that would be financed are $70,000 for software upgrades for 911 dispatching, $69,500 for a new jail roof, $146,000 for five cruisers for the sheriff’s office, $120,000 for a 4-wheel drive ambulance for the county EMS station at Aid; $50,000 for electrical work at the courthouse and $22,000 to replace a blower on the courthouse furnace unit.

Along with that would be refinancing approximately $586,500 in three bank loans through Burcham’s program. Two of those have an interest rate of 5.35 per cent and the third has a rate of 3.99 per cent.

“We would be switching off from a high rate to a lower rate for a five or 10-year period,” Commission President Bill Pratt said.

One factor under consideration is whether the savings from the lower interest rate will be greater than the prepayment penalties, while a plus to the proposed transaction would be that 70 percent of the interest comes back to the general fund, according to Pratt.

“We are collecting 1.4 percent and it only costs .6 percent,” he said. “When we borrow our own money, you can hardly beat it. It will save us some money. We are setting ourselves up for better times to come.”

At its Tuesday work session Pratt, at the request of Commissioner Les Boggs, contacted Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship to see if the city would share the $70,000 cost of the software upgrade since the county took over Ironton Police Department dispatching at no cost to the city.

Last week the city and county each received $250,000 from the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority after the county helped in negotiations with the IMHA and LM Associates, the manager of the Sherman Thompson Towers, a high-rise senior complex.

LM Associates wanted a reversionary clause that would make the high rise the property of the IMHA at 2032 removed. After receiving that, the company gave the IMHA $500,000, which was, in turn, divided between the county and city.

“I’m asking if you would split that ($70,000) since we have that extra money,” Pratt said in a phone conversation with Blankenship. “It would help finalize the consolidation process.”

Lonnie Best, 911 director, was asked to explain the new software to Ironton City Council at its next regular meeting on Sept. 12.