Authority votes to approve $5.9 million loan

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By Nick Nunn

Staff Writer

During the July meeting of the Joint Development Authority (JDA), the JDA accepted a resolution to approve a $5.9 million Georgia Environmental Facilities Administration (GEFA) loan for the construction of an onsite wastewater treatment facility.

The GEFA loan will have an interest rate of 1.82 percent for the 30-year term on the loan, but payments will not begin for the first five years. Additionally, the loan contract stipulates the payment of a 1 percent closing fee, equal to $59,000.

Attorney Andrea Gray stated that GEFA was accommodating to the needs of the JDA during the negotiation process.

“They actually changed a lot of their terms to fit our authority,” said Gray. “The really worked with us to make it fit.”

Although the Morgan County Board of Commissioners approved of the GEFA loan in December of 2012, the JDA was not able to finalize the deal until the vote during the July meeting.

The JDA also discussed and approved an amendment to an existing 2002 GEFA loan.

The intent of the amendment would be to release Social Circle from its responsibilities during the remaining term of the loan, as per the request of Social Circle.

The original role of Social Circle, who was brought into the agreement in 2002, in the development was to provide a water source, which, because of the growth of the overall project, is no longer necessary.

JDA Chairman Alan Verner described the amendment to release Social Circle as the “right thing to do” while expressing the authorities gratefulness to Social Circle during the early years of the agreement.

Should Social Circle be released, the burden of the remaining payments that would have been made by Social Circle will fall to the remaining governmental bodies represented by the JDA: Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties.

If Social Circle is released, Morgan County will be expected to pay an amount of approximately $132 per quarter in addition to its current quarterly payment for the remainder of the loan term.

The total additional amount for the remaining loan term will be approximately $5,000 according to Gray.

“It’s not a huge addition,” said Ellen Warren, representing Morgan County at the JDA.

The current quarterly payment that Morgan County makes to the JDA is approximately $6,300.

Gray expects that the amendment could be complete in the space of a couple of months, pending the approval of the four counties – Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton – comprising the JDA.

During the meeting, Paul Michael stated that the Baxter project is making “tremendous” effort, and that there has been “increased activity” by the Stanton Springs Gas Authority extending gas lines into the project.

The JDA made plans to tour the Baxter site on July 31, beginning with a catered lunch and presentation at noon.

The authority also resolved to recognize past board members at the next meeting of the JDA by presenting them with framed resolutions.

“They really contributed to this authority,” said Verner.

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