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Vidalia DDA Takes Over Econo Inn Project

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The Vidalia Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has been working to transition the purchase of the Econo Inn by the City of Vidalia to the DDA, so that the authority can take control of the project. In the effort to facilitate the transition, the DDA has sought a taxable revenue bond in the amount of $1.4 million from Mount Vernon Bank. In August, the City of Vidalia purchased the Econo Inn property on Main Street for an unspecified economic development project. This project will be moved forward by the DDA.

Legal counsel and mediation is being provided to the DDA by DDA Attorney Justin Franklin and the Gray Pannell & Woodward financial law firm. Gray Pannell & Woodward Associate Stephen G. Swinson informed DDA members that a taxable revenue bond provides for the City to finance payments on the bond through their funding, but could enable up to 3 mills of taxes to be levied if the City cannot pay for service because of debt and insufficient funding.

City Manager Nick Overstreet assured the DDA that the method of financing payments that had been discussed was through Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds. “The Vidalia City Council has done an extremely good job at holding tight to SPLOST money,” he said. “I think we’ll be just fine.” Mount Vernon Bank provided the best bid for the bond, with an interest rate being fixed at 1.95% and the bond having a 10-year maturity rate. Payments on the bond will occur semiannually, and there is no prepayment penalty on the bond.

Franklin made a disclosure statement regarding the Mount Vernon Bank bid because of his affiliation with the bank’s Board. “I was not involved in soliciting financial options this time because I disposed of that conflict early on. Thus, Stephen Swinson and other Gray Pannell & Woodward associates handled that matter.”

The bond was unanimously approved by DDA members and the bond validation was filed by Swinson and Franklin. A hearing was held on October 7 to allow anyone who opposed the project to share their petitions and/or complaints. No outstanding objections were made regarding the bond and the closing has been finalized.

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