If everything continues to go as planned, the debt that is owed on the Spec Building will be significantly reduced soon, thanks to a partnership between Upson County and the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority. Last summer the Board of Commissioners voted to designate roughly one mill of tax from the millage rate to go towards helping fund TUIDA through incentives for potential industries and debt reduction. The county collected about 86 percent of the taxes for 2013 and the portion that will be put towards the debt reduction is around $500,000; the remaining amount will be handled by TUIDA. Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston noted the rest of the commissioners are in favor of paying off what they can on the building; however an official vote will have to be made at the next Board of Commission meeting, which is scheduled for February 11.
TUIDA board member Scott Blackstock offered gratitude on behalf of the authority to the county for their help on the matter.
“I just want to thank the county again for doing this,” he said. “It has changed what we are able to do as an IDA.”
TUIDA Executive Director Kyle Fletcher stated the Spec Building was built in 2004 and there was $613,246.20 still owed on the interest bearing loan at the end of December last year. Since January’s payment has already been made, that leaves about $608,000 left to pay off and with the county putting towards around $500,000 and some change, TUIDA will be responsible for about $100,000 on the loan. During the meeting, the board voted to take $80,000 out of their bond issuance account, which currently has $97,965 and then cover the rest of their expense from the TUIDA’s daily operating account, which had $156,000 in it at the end of December.
Historically, the money placed in the bond issuance account (which comes from the fees collected by TUIDA when a bond is issued) has been set aside for audits of the properties to know what has been brought in each year and who owns what. TUIDA Attorney Joel Bentley told the board that their bond attorney, Jim Monacell , is of the opinion that the authority is not required to conduct independent audits. It would become the responsibility of the tax assessor’s office or the company itself to conduct the audit and TUIDA would be free to do with the money what they choose. However, before the money is taken out of the bond issuance account, Fletcher stated she would like to speak with Pat Fallin of the Tax Assessors Office.
Paying off the interest bearing loan will take care of a significant portion of the debt on the Spec Building and will only leave the OneGeorgia loan, which the county has approximately $325,000 left to pay on. County Manager Jim Wheeless was present at the meeting and stated that not only will using the money reduce the debt on the building, it will also lower the county’s monthly payments and assist in balancing the county budget for the year. Each month the county has been paying $5,665 on the Spec Building loan which equals to $67,980 for the year which will be saved once the loan is paid off.
In other business, board members Billy Johnston and Scott Blackstock took their oaths of office and were sworn in during the meeting. The board also approved Driver and Adams as the TUIDA Auditor, Wayne Sandefur as the TUIDA Financial Services and Joel Bentley as the TUIDA Attorney.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1