Reissuing school bonds may save county up to $1.2 million

Perhaps most important to the county’s overall fiscal health was the Board’s unanimous decision to take advantage of low interest rates to reissue $70 million of General Obligation School Refunding Bonds.

Finance Director Barbara Horlacher told the Board the true interest rate of 2.9 percent was favorable and would save the county money both in the long and short term.

Horlacher said with the Board’s permission, she could be ready to refund the bonds to the Virginia Public School Authority by Dec. 1.

The largest percentage of the bonds were bought to build the new high school. Horlacher said the immediate savings in fiscal year 2013 could be as much as $1.2 million.

The Board then decided unanimously to take whatever savings is realized and put it into the county’s coffers for future use. They also had the option of plowing it back into the bonds to reduce the debt service.

County Administrator Steve Nichols said the Board can always decide later to put some or all of the savings toward the debt. Nichols said it would be prudent to have that money in the bank, given the upcoming federal fiscal issues.

“This is the worst time in the world to not have any money in your checkbook,” Nichols said.

Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham) asked Horlacher what the county was paying the brokers.

“It’s not a percentage is it?” Weaver said.

“No, It’s under $10,000,” Horlacher said. “In a debt issuance they’ll charge us by the hour and it will be part of the issuance.”

Weaver said he wanted to know because past Boards made such decisions without knowing the cost.

“I’m really pleased with the thoroughness and forethought you’ve put into this,” Weaver said.

Board President Shaun Kenney said it showed a “great amount of work.”

Nichols reported on county boards and commissions. He suggested eliminating the Court Green Committee, the Economic Development Commission, the Finance Board, the Fluvanna County Transportation Safety Commission, the Landfill Advisory Committee and the Palmyra Wastewater Committee. The Board voted to eliminate all but the Economic Development Commission and asked Nichols to suggest to the Economic Development Authority to take over the EDC duties. If it does, the supervisors seemed ready to eliminate the EDC.

Again at Nichols recommendation, supervisors voted unanimously to end representation on the Affordable Housing Task Force, the Piedmont Workforce Investment Board and the Thomas Jefferson Water Resources Protection Foundation.

Commissioner of the Revenue Mel Sheridan reported on the reassessment.

Sheridan said:

  • Assessors had 435 personal meetings with county residents who questioned their assessment
  • As a result, 208 parcels changed; 227 remained as assessed
  • As a whole, the county was reassessed 25.9 percent lower
  • 15,429 parcels equaled $2,607,398,200 in taxable value

Sheridan suggested the county schedule a reassessment cycle of every two years, but at least a minimum of every three years.

“This would avoid large swings in values/rates,” Sheridan said.

Public Works Director Wayne Stephens provided the Board with a list of all county owned vehicles. Stephens said the 38 vehicles had an average age of 18 years. He suggested that 11 of the vehicles be “disposed of easily by on-line auction.

Nichols told the Board that during his regular breakfast meetings with staff, someone asked why employees got paper pay stubs.

After looking into it, Nichols found that the county MUNIS computer system had a built-in option of sending the same pay stub electronically via employee’s e-mail.

“I’d like to review the process, announce it to the staff, load e-mail addresses into the system and try it out with an eye to implementing it with the first pay in December.”

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