published Monday, October 29th, 2012

Marion County seeks bond savings

Marion County Mayor John Graham
Marion County Mayor John Graham
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. — Marion County Mayor John Graham recently asked the county's financial adviser to review the county's debt.

Graham said he knew interest rates were at record lows and he hoped the county could save by refinancing some loans.

Adviser Tom McAnaulty, senior vice president of Stephens Inc. in Nashville, presented a plan for savings last week to the County Commission's Finance Committee.

"The only [loan] that could be refinanced without any major deficiency was a 2003 [bond] issue," he said.

The original bond amount was $2.165 million and the county now owes about $1.4 million on it, officials said.

McAnaulty said refinancing would save the county about $110,000.

"I think it's certainly worth the effort to refinance those bonds," he said.

Finance Committee Chairman Don Adkins agreed.

"If we got the chance to save $110,000, then we're in agreement," he said.

The board voted unanimously to refinance the bond using capital outlay notes through local banks, McAnaulty said.

"Refinancing locally would be a lot less expensive than issuing bonds through Wall Street," he said. "That would mean we'd have to buy a credit rating, and it's just a lot more expensive. We're trying to hold costs down, and I think we're better off doing it this way."

Refinancing the bonds will not hurt the county's current A-1 credit rating, he said.

Because the 2003 bonds were scheduled to reach maturity in 2023, refinancing for 10 years will not affect the length of the loan, Graham said.

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