Called Meeting Minutes

Jasper County Board of Commissioners

July 31, 2017

Called Meeting Minutes

6:00 P.M.

Comm. Pennamon called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Chairman, Carl Pennamon, Bruce Henry, Don Jernigan, Craig Salmon, and Doug Luke.

Staff Present: Mike Benton, County Manager, Clerk, Sharon Robinson, and Finance Director, Rhonda Blissit, Sheriff, Donnie Pope, and County Attorney, David Ozburn.

Pledge of Allegiance:


District 2, Bruce Henry

Agenda Approval:

Comm. Jernigan made motion to approve the agenda, Salmon seconded; passed unanimously.

Commissioner’s Items:

Jernigan: Ernest Gibson Road, would like to thank Public Works for clearing the right-of-way on behalf of the residents on that road.

Luke: None

Henry: Concerned if we mix SPLOST with debt it may not pass. If it doesn’t pass we don’t get anything. He talked to Mark Hardison last Friday and he says Mr. Hardison recommends we have between 2 and 6 months of fund balance, but 6 months is not what we have to have. Noted we have $4 million in fund balance, and will have more after the fiscal year. He worked with Mr. Benton over the weekend and got some numbers together. Mr. Benton provided Commissioners with a copy of the spreadsheet Comm. Henry was reading from. (A copy will be attached and made a part of the official minutes). Comm. Henry reviewed the spreadsheet noting the fund balance amounts since June of 2012 and the projected Stanton Springs revenues. Feels we need to look at this and bring our SPLOST projects down to $3.9 million dollars which is what we are going to bring in and then use fund balance to fund some of these projects. Feels if we put too much on the referendum it will not pass.

Comm. Pennamon noted if we sell it wrong, it will fail.

Atty. Ozburn noted you can note in referendum that 100% of county portion goes to pay those projects.

Comm. Pennamon clarified that Comm. Henry is wanting them to ask for 2 separate votes.

Comm. Henry noted that is what he thinks we should do, cause if we don’t we a jeopardizing the SPLOST completely.

Comm. Luke noted, he missed a couple meetings but he is not sure how everything got confusing. He clarified his understanding of using the $3.9 million dollar SPLOST to retire the debt that they intend to incur. He noted we need to work to a positive agreement on this and not let the waters get muddied, the future of this county rides on the next ten years. We either make it or break it.

Comm. Henry noted he wants to present something that will pass.

Comm. Luke noted keep in mind we are going to have to forward fund the Sheriff project, he cannot wait 6 years for the money to come in.

Comm. Pennamon clarified the other thing we need to understand is that we are not asking for any additional tax, it is to renew the tax we already have.

Salmon: Expressed thanks to Public Works also.

Pennamon: Received a call from Joey Odom, his truck was damaged on Post Road from a low hanging tree, City and County worked together on project. Requested County Manager to send a thank you letter to the City,



Regular Agenda:

Old Business:

2018 SPLOST Planning:

Mr. Tom Owens, Raymond James introduced himself and noted they help cities and counties with general obligation bonds in a cost efficient way. He provided board members with a presentation. (A copy is attached and made a part of the official minutes).

Mr. Owens noted the historical sales tax numbers for past years.

Mr. Owens explained option of a lease program, which is a poor option in this instance for the county, as you have to put up collateral and it is hard to put up a road as collateral. Best option is General Obligation bond.

Mr. Owens explained the process of General Obligation (GO) Bonds. Their goal would be to help county find the best buyer with the lowest interest rate.

Mr. Owens reviewed terms for a $7.5 million dollar SPLOST, showing payments for terms of 12, 15, and 18 years.

Comm. Luke questioned if there is a prepayment penalty.

Mr. Owens noted it depends on the buyer of the bonds, most don’t like you to prepay for 10 years.

Comm. Salmon questioned the time frame on GO bonds.

Mr. Owens noted about 60-75 days from the time of election.

Mr. Owens noted USDA is a great source of funds, it is just time consuming

Comm. Pennamon gave citizens from the audience the opportunity to ask questions.

Mary Patrick questioned if we go with GO bonds it is going to be a separate referendum just for the bonds, or is it going to be mixed with the SPLOST.

Mr. Owens noted it will typically be presented in a single question that says you are authorizing the SPLOST and issuance of the bonds.

Ms. Patrick questioned if the amount will be listed.

Mr. Owens noted it will have an authorized amount, which will be the same amount listed on the resolution the board will pass.

Mr. Forsythe questioned if the $8.2 million amount includes the interest.

Mr. Benton noted the amount of the project list does not include interest.

Mr. Owens noted the language will read we will spend up to $3.9 million on principal and interest.

Comm. Henry noted he still thinks before we go out and borrow money we should look at using fund balance for some of the items. He doesn’t feel that we need LMIG money up front.

Comm. Salmon asked in reference to a bond if you are doing it to construct a project; can you take draws on the bond?

Mr. Owens noted if you do it as a bank loan you can do draws. For the bonds the structure can be adjusted. You can have 2 issuances as needed. He further noted that the fees would be more on 2 $4 million dollar bonds than one $8 million dollar bond.

Comm. Salmon noted if it passes we can get those projects done as fast as possible.

Mr. Owens noted that is the benefit of doing bonds; you are building projects at today’s cost of doing that project.

Comm. Jernigan noted the longer we wait to do these projects, the more it is going to cost us.

Comm. Pennamon noted Comm. Henry brought up some good points, do we really want to finance the LMIG match?

Comm. Luke noted if we cut LMIG match out and use fund balance to pay it; we just cut $1.2 million off that number.

Mr. Owens noted you can schedule that in your bonds.

Comm. Pennamon noted we can pay the Public Works truck, Fire, 911, and LMIG match out of fund balance or general fund then we have cut the amount of bonds we will need. This brings us down to $6.5 million.

Comm. Henry noted if we take $300,000 from Recreation to make it $1.7 million, then we would be down to $6.2 million to borrow.

Commissioners agreed to have the County Manager draw up the project list at $6.2 million dollars.

Comm. Henry noted he does not like the thought of going 20 years.

Comm. Salmon noted he would like to look at the numbers of the bond and the delay payments over six years.

Mr. Owens noted he will do it a couple different ways for the board to look at it.

County Attorney Items:


County Manager Items:


Citizens Comments:

Mary Patrick – Business License/Legal Business issue – Welding Business on Edwards Road

Executive Session:



Comm. Jernigan made motion to adjourn at 7:52 p.m., Comm. Salmon seconded; passed unanimously.



Carl Pennamon, Chairman



Sharon S. Robinson, Clerk