04/06/12 — County eyeing grant, loans

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County eyeing grant, loans

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 6, 2012 1:46 PM

Public hearings on possible application for a Community Development Block Grant and on plans to refinance up to $9.6 million in loans were scheduled Tuesday morning by Wayne County commissioners.

Both hearings will be held April 17 at 9:15 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

Commissioners last month approved an application for $400,000 for the Community Development Block Grant scattered site housing program.

The grant that will be under consideration on April 17 is the North Carolina Catalyst, formerly the Community Revitalization program, which the county has participated in previously.

The program looks at neighborhood needs such as dirt streets, failing septic systems, substandard water lines or in some cases no water lines, very deteriorated housing and poor drainage.

No local match is acquired. However, consultant David Harris of RSM Harris Associates told commissioners last month that "if you don't contribute money, you don't get it."

A 5-10 percent contribution normally "gets you into the ball game," he said.

County officials have compared the refinancing proposal to refinancing a home mortgage, and in this case, it could save $300,000 over the life of the loan, or about half a penny on the property tax rate.

Before the unanimous vote to set the public hearing, Commissioner Steve Keen asked County Manager Lee Smith for a spreadsheet on the proposal to refinance the outstanding balance on loans for work done several years ago on the county-owned Borden building and on last year's new radio system.

The county owes $1.39 million of the $3.77 million it borrowed in 2002 to renovate the Borden building. It is a 15-year note at 4.33 percent interest. Refinancing could save $54,080.

In 2008, the county borrowed $9.7 million for the radio system. The 10-year loan, of which $7.910 million remains, has an interest rate of 3.38 percent. Refinancing could save $243,675.

State law requires the public hearing because the refinancing involves real property.

Davenport and Associates, the county's financial consultants, suggested the county consider the refinancing. Smith told commissioners that the city of Goldsboro recently refinanced some of its debt.

If commissioners approve proceeding with the refinancing, the county would ask for financing proposals from lending institutions. The county will not know what the rates are until it has the proposals because they change daily, Smith said.

The county will ask for the proposal in two ways -- one in which the loans will be packaged together and another in which they will be separate.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners:

* Approved a mental health resolution for substantial equivalency and a plan of merger and agreement for Eastpointe. Eastpointe Area Director Ken Jones presented the resolution and plan of merger and agreement with The Beacon Center and Southeastern Regional Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. The resolution will support Eastpointe's petition to the state to have the agency's personnel system designated as being equivalent to the state's.

* Appointed Marvin Duane Bunn to the Little River Fire District Commission.

* Approved proclamations for Volunteer Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month and Public Health Month in Wayne County.

* Waived a permit fee for a house that will be constructed by Habitat for Humanity in the county. The fee was estimated to be between $600 to $650.