By Jamison Hooks
County Manager Michael Lamar presented the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) with an opportunity to fast-track pending projects with a potential $3 million loan.
“There is an opportunity to consider taking on some additional debt in order to fast-track some pending capitol projects that we have talked about and think are needed in this community,” said Lamar.
“Just pulling a number out for discussion purposes is $3 million of new money and it looks like the interest rate for a ten year debt service payment would be about 1.76 percent”.
With this proposal, Morgan County would be looking at a 3 million dollar debt incurment, which would equate to payments of about $327,00 per year.
Lamar explained the county currently raises about that amount of SPLOST revenue each month.
This would allow the County to fast-track 3 million dollars of projects for the equivalent of what is being raised in SPLOST money per month.
Lamar provided a list of potential projects with ballpark numbers to the BOC.
Among the items listed were patrol video and body camera systems for law enforcement, replacement of fire stations, and new soccer, baseball, and tennis facilities for the recreation department.
“In years going forward, this could free up money in our general fund that could be put in our reserve,” clarified Commissioner Ellen Warren.
Each of the Commissioners weighed in on this opportunity.
Commissioner Philip Clack shared his concern that the expenses don’t just stop once construction is complete.
“With more soccer and baseball fields we will have to hire more manpower to keep up with the maintenance,” said Clack.
Commissioner Andy Ainslie commented that certain projects should take precedence over others.
“Growing up in the tennis community in Morgan County we’re blessed to have eight courts. I would love to do the Apalachee fire station and take the tennis courts off for later. We’re blessed to have just surfaced eight really nice courts,” said Ainslie.
Warren also agreed that if this opportunity is taken the BOC should carefully consider which projects are addressed first.
“I am so supportive of the good things the Rec Department does and how it benefits our children but I tend to think we have some more substantial projects we need to address,” said Warren.
Lamar made a point that each project being considered will be tackled eventually. Whether the BOC will take advantage of the low interest rate is up to them.
“This interest rate is 1.76 percent for ten years which, you’re not gonna get better interest rates than that. Your option is to do some of these things or all of these things now, or you can do them later when the rate is going to be higher,” said Lamar.
With many factors to consider, Commissioners felt they needed more time to weigh all their options.
“I would like a little time to wrap my arms around these projects. Maybe we don’t have to borrow three million, maybe we could go with two million,” said Warren.
The BOC decided to hold off until their next meeting to make a final decision.