A refinancing plan that could save the Henry County government up to $150,000 over the next six years on a schools project that is still being paid for was approved by the County Commission Tuesday.
In 2010, the county issued about $2.5 million worth of bonds to benefit the Henry County School System. The money was for a renovation/construction project at Grove School, which was completed several years ago.
The county is scheduled to continue paying on that project through the 2025-26 fiscal year.
County Mayor Brent Greer and financial advisers from Raymond James and Associates in Nashville saw an opportunity to refinance those payments. When the bonds were issued in 2010, the interest rate was about 4.07%. Interest rates now are typically just above 2%.
Rick Dulaney, managing director, and Elizabeth Zuelke, vice president, represented Raymond James at the Tuesday meeting.
“It’s a favorable market right now,” Dulaney said.
With the refinancing, it’s expected the interest costs to the county will drop to about $217,000 through the end of the 2025-26 fiscal year.
The total cost approved by the county for the refinancing project on the principal amount Tuesday is to be $2.14 million.
That includes the remaining principal of about $2.085 million plus the costs of the issuance to be paid to Raymond James ($24,500 as financial advisers) and law firm Bass, Berry and Sims ($12,500 as bond counsel.)
The commission approved the refinancing unanimously, with all 14 members present voting yes. Commissioner Paul Neal was absent.
In other business Tuesday:
• The county gave its approval to a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) program to help Eurotranciatura with a $7.5 million expansion.
Rob Goad, executive director of the Paris-Henry County Industrial Committee, said the company, which produces laminations for electric motors and generators, has 188 employees now, but the new project involves buying nearby space on which to place another building.
“They provide some relatively high-paying jobs, and they’ve been a stable member of the industrial community,” Goad said.
The PILOT program provides tax abatements for the company for the next 10 years. Eurotranciatura is required to maintain at least its current employment levels during that time as part of the agreement.
• The commission approved a resolution to keep the county on a five-year reappraisal cycle, as recommended by Property Assessor Charles VanDyke.
This July will mark the start of the next property reappraisal cycle.
State law provides generally for six-year cycles, but counties are allowed to shift to five-year cycles if they prefer.
• An interlocal agreement between the county, the cities of Puryear and McKenzie, Henry County Medical Center’s Emergency Medical Services, Paris-Henry County Rescue Squad and the county’s independent volunteer fire departments to offer automatic response on emergency services was approved.
The agreement basically allows departments to aid other departments as needed in regard to firefighting, vehicle rescue, EMS or related technical support.
The volunteer fire departments involved are Como-Ore Springs, Cottage Grove, Henry, Mansfield, Oakland, Paris Landing and Springville. Fire departments in Paris, Puryear and McKenzie are financially supported by those city governments.
“I was asked by the local fire chiefs to bring this to the commission,” said Ronald Watkins, Henry County emergency management director. “Hopefully, it can improve the response time, and the automatic aid should have a positive effect on the departments’ ISO ratings, too.”
• The commission voted to support a bill at the state level that would direct TennCare to reimburse ground ambulance providers (such as HCMC’s EMS) at a rate no lower than the current Medicare fee schedule.
Twila Rose, director of the local EMS, said the average reimbursement to the ambulance service from Medicaid is about 8% of actual charges. That means if a bill is $1,000, Medicaid only pays EMS $80.
The average Medicare reimbursement is about 20%. So, agencies such as EMS hope the bill passes so that Medicaid (through the TennCare program) would pay at least as much as Medicare.