Columbia County officials racked up more than $15,000 in expenses on a recent three-day trip to New York, but officials believe the trip might save the county thousands of dollars in interest costs.
Though not all the receipts had been counted as of Monday morning, county commissioners and eight staff members spent nearly $7,900 on hotel rooms, more than $6,000 for transportation and more than $1,600 on food. Added together, the trip cost taxpayers at least $15,572.
Officials say the trip was necessary. They meet with executives of agencies that rate a government's financial security. A higher rating typically results in lower interest payments on bond sales because it indicates a smaller risk for investors.
The trip, taken Aug. 25-27, resulted in improved bond ratings from the three major rating firms -- Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch Ratings.
County Deputy Administrator Scott Johnson said the higher ratings might save the county about $400,000 in interest as officials get ready to sell about $50 million in Water Utility bonds this week.
With money from the bonds, which will be paid back with water service profits, officials will expand the Little River Water Pollution Control Plant, make improvements to the Crawford Creek and Reed Creek plants, move and expand the department's lab from Evans to the Little River plant, construct a new administration building on High Meadows Drive and extend several water and sewer lines to previously unserved areas in the county.
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