Toombs County in Solid Standing To Secure Low-Interest Rates for Courthouse Project
Toombs County has received its first ever credit ratings and has been found in solid standing to finance a 30-year bond to build the new courthouse. This good news was presented at the commissioner’s October 20 session by the county financial advisors Doug Gebhardt and Ricardo Cornejo of Davenport & Company. The credit rating process was summarized for the commissioners prior to their approval of two items involving the courthouse project: the ratification of a bond resolution adopted by the Toombs County Public Facilities Authority authorizing the issuance of its revenue bonds, and a lease contract by and between Toombs County Public Facilities Authority and Toombs County. Using the credit ratings processes of two investment companies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, the study of the county’s economic development and conditions, demographics, and financial factors proved that it has a stable tax base, a healthy fund balance, strong liquidity levels, and manageable fixed costs. This put the county in solid standing to secure low interest rates for construction.
Gebhardt said the day had been a culmination of a lot of hard work and effort by County Manager John Jones, (Sen.) Blake Tillery, and the bond counsel, “and it really resulted in a successful bond sell today.” After four companies bid for interest rates, Robert W. Baird Investment Bank won the bid at 2.31%. After factoring in all issuance costs for a 30-year fixed rate bond issuance, the interest rate will be a remarkable 2.38%. The bonds for construction are scheduled to be closed on November 17.
Later, on Tuesday afternoon, the Public Facilities Authority (PFA) met to approve the bond resolution. The authority was formed in July to manage the financing of the new courthouse that will replace the current 56-yearold building. In August, the Commission’s approval enabled the PFA to oversee the preparation and issuance of revenue bonds to finance the construction from acquisitions to the final equipping of the courthouse. The positive credit rating is an accomplishment of years of good county management and confirmation of financial stability for proceeding through the construction process.
The guaranteed maximum price of the courthouse project, as contracted in July with the construction management company, TQ Constructors of Metter, is $34 million. One of the goals given for the Davenport financial advisors to achieve was to raise $34 million. This, and the goal of keeping the annual debt service at $1.6 million, were met. “This could only have been accomplished through the hard work of constitutional officers, department heads and employees in managing the costs of their offices and departments and remaining in budget year after year.” Jones said. “We are blessed to have all of them working for the county.”
Commission Chairman David Sikes told Gebhardt and Cornejo, “You’ve done a fantastic job. I can’t tell you how excited we are but I can show you. If you come back in about two years for the ribbon cutting, I’ll show how excited we are. The new courthouse will create the face for Toombs County for the next 100 years. Thank you, guys, so much.”
Sikes also extends his warmest invitation to every citizen to the ribbon cutting in the fall of 2022. He said, “We are all one and it’s because of unity that this was possible.”
In other business, Toombs County Sheriff Alvie Kight reported plans to resume Toombs County Superior Court with a jury trial on November 30. Advice will be sought from court officials in preparation of the multiple health safety measures needed to resume gathering for trials in the courthouse. Spaced seating, multiple rooms and video conferencing will be used to work out the proceedings while limiting courtroom capacity to 50 people.
EMS Director Drew James reported that the 740 emergency calls in August were a record since the last high of 703 in 2018. September calls dropped to 632. The new ambulance to be delivered soon will have a special graphics and paint scheme that will honor the Armed Forces and Veterans in the Toombs and Montgomery County areas.