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$40 million more in school debt eyed

SoVaNow.com / May 09, 2018
Mecklenburg County supervisors are moving forward with plans to borrow an additional $40 million for the construction of Mecklenburg County’s new consolidated high and middle school complex.

The borrowing recommendation was accepted by members of the Budget and Finance Committee at their May 2 meeting. Approval by the full board is expected at their regular monthly meeting on Monday, May 14.

The money will come from the 2018 Virginia Public School Authority, which operates several financing programs for public school primary and secondary education.

According to R.T. Taylor, a Davenport & Company vice president who serves as financial advisor for the county, 20-year VPSA loans will be funded by early November and carry an interest rate of 4.5 percent.

Supervisors on the finance committee agreed to move forward with the financing plan even though the county has yet to purchase land for the site of the new school complex. Every indication suggests the new facility will be built on land currently owned by Jeremy W. and Adrienne R. Seaman, Calvin J. and Judy G. Seaman and William S. Wilkinson, located at the intersection of Wooden Bridge Road and U.S. 58 in Baskerville.

The Board of Supervisors approved an option on the property in December. The option runs through June 30, but can be renewed through Sept. 30.

County Administrator Wayne Carter said $1.1 million has been set aside to cover the debt service on the new loan and on the $50 million borrowed last year for the school project. For that reason, Carter said he sees no need to raise taxes above the current proposed 1 cent real estate tax increase for fiscal year 2018-19, which starts July 1, 2018.

In prior discussions held around the time the county first began planning for the new facility, Carter anticipated having to raise the real estate tax rate by 7 cents or more, depending on the size and scope of the project and the cost of construction.

Taylor, the Davenport advisor, asked the budget and finance committee to consider plans to borrow an additional $10 million per year for three years starting in 2023.

That money would be used for upgrades and renovations to the county’s four elementary schools.

Committee members decide to hold off on this additional borrowing for now.



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