The Columbia County Commission approved the sale of $38 million in bonds during a Tuesday meeting to start some construction and improvement projects.
The bond sale allows officials to start capital improvement projects listed in the 2011-16 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum approved by voters in November.
The projects include a $4 million dorm at the Columbia County Detention Center; a $2.55 million expansion of the Evans Government Center; a $4 million Health Department building on Chamblin Road; more than $10 million in stormwater and water improvements; nearly $1.7 million for the first construction phase of Evans Town Center Park; $2 million for a multi-purpose exhibition facility at the county fairgrounds on Columbia Road; about $2.8 million for an Animal Care and Control building next to the new Health Department; and $6.9 million for fire stations and the purchase of fire trucks.
"The good news is we can start with the work," commission chairman Ron Cross said. "The bad news is we're in debt."
The commission authorized the bond purchase agreement with Merrill Lynch, which sold the bonds Tuesday. The agreement comes on the heels of a recent upgrading in the county's bond rating from AA to AA by Standard and Poor's Rating Services. The upgrade allows the county to sell the bonds at a 2.67 percent interest rate.
More than $20 million of the bonds were purchased by individual buyers while the remainder were bought by financial corporations, a Merrill Lynch representative told commissioners Tuesday.
The bond will be repaid over a six-year period from sales taxes collected from 2011-2016. The first bond payment of $5.3 million is due in 2012, according to county documents.
Also at the meeting:
- Commissioners named Tim Holloway as the interim manager of the Roads and Bridges Department until county officials have the opportunity to evaluate and possibly restructure the department.
- Columbia County sheriff's Deputy Chris Burnett was recognized as the Employee of the Month.
- Officials approved an alcohol license for a new Chili's restaurant at Evans Town Center Boulevard and Ronald Reagan Drive.
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