JDA considers private school bond issue
Board tables request by Loganville school
By Matthew Burgoyne
The Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties was presented with a unique, yet familiar proposal at their monthly meeting.
Doug Monda, chief financial officer for Loganville Christian Academy, asked the JDA to sponsor the school’s bond issuance. In order for a bond to be issued, a government agency must support the bond. Loganville Christian Academy has already received its commitment letter from a bank in Albany, New York, but now they need a government agency. The Walton County Board of Commissioners turned down the Academy’s request, bringing Monda to the JDA meeting. Monda said Loganville Christian Academy was growing rapidly with 100-150 new students per year. By 2011, Monda estimated the school would have 1,100 students and 100 new employees. The bonds they are seeking are approximately worth $9.8 million dollars and will be used to increase the size of the campus. Loganville Christian Academy has students representing Walton, Morgan and Newton Counties, Monda said.
“There is no such thing as a bond issue that is not complicated,” said attorney James Griffin to the JDA. Members of the JDA were divided on the issue. Some expressed a concern that supporting these bonds does not coincide with the missions set forth by the authority. Others did not feel there was enough information to make a decision at the present time. After discussion, the JDA voted to delay its decision until its next meeting, giving its members the opportunity to explore the matter further. In the past, the JDA has declined to support the issuance of bonds simply because it is not in the charter of the authority. The JDA will vote on this issue at its next monthly meeting in March.
The JDA also approved a marketing plan including a DVD and a new website.
John Boothby, president of the Newton County Chamber of Commerce, presented the JDA with a marketing plan aimed at increasing public awareness of Stanton Springs, a 1,620-acre self-contained community straddling I-20. Boothby provided the JDA with information regarding the cost of creating both the DVD and website. The DVD will cost approximately $1,000 per minute and will be no more than five minutes long. A motion limiting the DVD total expense to $5,000 was made by Kevin Little, chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Walton County, and approved unanimously. The DVD will provide businesses and residents interested in Stanton Springs the opportunity to see what it has to offer before seeing the area first hand. Some members of the JDA expressed concerns that the DVD would become dated. Boothby assured them the videos can easily be updated as more developments are made in the area.
“We are all interested in the success of Stanton Springs,” said Little in response to the strength of the marketing plan. Boothby also presented the JDA with a new website devoted solely to Stanton Springs. The new website has zero cost except for a $17.95 maintenance package chosen by the JDA.
The site will serve as the primary supplement to what TPA Realty Services has linked on their website. TPA Realty Services is in a public-private partnership with the JDA to purchase Stanton Springs from the JDA over the next 20 years. This purchasing will include a 10 percent profit which will eventually make its way back to the taxpayers. Members of the Newton County Water and Sewer Authority were also present at the meeting to discuss the building of a new plant to be built in Eastern Newton County.
The Newton County Water and Sewer Authority has been charged with providing water and sewage to the Stanton Springs area. Currently, Stanton Springs receives its sewage from nearby Social Circle and its water from Newton County.
Within the next 30 to 36 months, the new plant will be built providing an additional 3.1 million gallons of sewage capacity to the Stanton Springs area. This combined with the capacity from Social Circle will give the area 6.2 million gallons of capacity. The time frame for building the plant is dependent upon the need. If new clients are looking to move into Stanton Springs early, developments for the sewage plant will be sped up.The plant will be less than 10 acres in size and environmentally sensitive. In keeping with the standards and goals of Stanton Springs, it will be a ‘green’ plant. Though the two authorities are not affiliated, the Newton County Water and Sewer Authority keeps the JDA updated on its progress since it directly impacts the success of Stanton Springs.