by Charlie McKee
In a Special Meeting on August 22, 2013, the Grant County Commission approved Ordinance No. 13-07, the issuance of a new Utility System Revenue Bonds, Series 2013, in the amount of $339,000. The funds are to be used "for the purpose of acquiring, extending, enlarging, bettering, repairing, and otherwise improving water and/or wastewater system improvements in the North Hurley Area." A portion of the funds will also be used to pay the cost of the bond issuance. The funding will allow the County to address North Hurley pumping station problems that have been requiring attention for more than two years.
During the Public Hearing portion of the Special Meeting, Christopher P. Muirhead, attorney for Modrall Sperling Roehl Harris & Sisk, P.A., explained the advantages of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) combination grant/loan deal. The $339,000 portion of the agreement would be a 40 year loan at 2.75%, which is a significant advantage over public rates, and the USDA will impose no penalty for prepayment of the loan. The County will not be pledging any gross receipts tax or property tax funds to pay the loan, but will use certain utility revenues for the annual $13,400 loan payment.
Muirhead noted that his firm, who has expertise in the issuance of USDA-funded bonds, is engaged to ensure that these tax exempt bonds meet the IRS and SEC regulations on such bonds. He highlighted the fact that the USDA deal includes a grant of $908,000 in combination with the bond issuance, which the USDA provides as part of its programs for rural utility systems. Muirhead emphasized the attractiveness of the package, amounting to more than $1 million for the County to improve North Hurley's water system.
At the conclusion of the Public Hearing, the Commissioners voted to approve Ordinance No. 13-07. The Commissioners then also approved a proclamation declaring September 25 to 29, 2013, as "Grant County Fair Days" in honor of the Fair's 65th year. Commission Chair Brett Kasten presented the proclamation to Richard Lawyer and Barbara Burris of the Grant County Fair Board.
The Commission then recessed and convened as the Grant County Canvassing Board to approve the August 19, 2013, Special Election Results for the increase in Gross Receipts Tax, which was defeated by a two-thirds majority. County Clerk Robert Zamarripa reported that the mail-in ballots resulted in much higher voter response than the standard election process requiring voters to come to polling sites. A total of 6,057 ballots were returned, amounting to 29 percent of the eligible Grant County voters.
The Commissioners voted to approve the Special Election Results. Kasten then adjourned the Canvassing Board and reconvened as the Board of County Commissioners to adjourn the meeting.