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County ‘in good shape’ to borrow for renovations

Halifax County has a “strong” debt profile and is in “good shape right now” for borrowing $19.27 million that will be needed to renovate the historical Halifax County Courthouse, sheriff’s department office space and industrial arts building.

B. Mitchell Brigulio Jr., vice president of public finance for Davenport and Company out of Charlotte, N.C., delivered that message to the Halifax County Board of Supervisors during its meeting Monday evening in Halifax.

The meeting was held a week later than usual after inclement weather forced postponement of the regular scheduled meeting last week.

Although supervisors continue to negotiate with Judge Joel Cunningham on final specifications for courthouse renovations, Finance Committee Chairman Doug Bowman said costs are expected to be closer to $12 million than the $16.5 million suggested by Brigulio in Monday night’s presentation.

According to the Davenport representative, Phase I of the project which includes renovation of the county administration offices for the sheriff’s department and of the vo-ag industrial arts building for temporary courts and ultimately county administrative offices is estimated to cost $2.7 million.

Construction is scheduled to get underway this spring.

If financing is locked in at a 3.25 percent interest rate for 20 years, the total payback of Phase I will amount to $3.8 million.

Phase II for courthouse renovations, which are anticipated to begin in the spring of 2015, is estimated to cost $16.5 million with a total payback anticipated to be $26.4 million.

In all, Brigulio anticipates the county will have a total payback on the two phases of $30.3 million over 20 years.

The Davenport and Company representative updated supervisors on activities, approvals and schedule of events necessary for the county to proceed with obtaining financing for the facilities renovation projects.

The two projects moving forward this spring in Phase I include renovation of the county administration offices for the sheriff’s department and the renovation of the vo-ag industrial arts building for temporary courts and ultimately county administrative offices.

Brigulio said Carter Bank has offered a bid on the $2.7 million loan with a 3.25 percent interest rate.

According to Halasz, Phase I financing activities are scheduled to take advantage of the Virginia Resources Authority May financing and will require a significant amount of consideration by supervisors during the next few weeks to meet VRA timelines.

Davenport and Company will work with the county bond counsel and staff so they can provide guidance and recommendations to the board identifying pros and cons of alternatives with which the board may be presented.

Halasz urged the board to consider taking action to procure project financing at either the March 17 or March 24 board meetings.

Brigulio also offered supervisors a detailed analysis of the county’s existing tax supported debt profile, compared it to other counties in the state and analyzed the short-term financing needs on the county’s debt profile.

He told supervisors the county currently has $52.8 million in outstanding debt service scheduled to be paid off in 2027 and noted the current debt per capita amounts to $1,459 per person.

After the $19.2 million is borrowed for Phase I and Phase II of the proposed renovation projects, the debt per capita will increase to $1,901 per person, he explained.

Brigulio concluded his presentation suggesting supervisors set a goal of closing on financing for Phase I of the project by April 11.

In other action Monday night, supervisors held a public hearing in which no one spoke on a conditional use permit application filed by W. A. Stratton Construction for Robert Lee Pulliam to build a proposed race shop for Pulliam Motorsports adjacent to 2103 Alton Post Office Road on the south side of State Route 711, approximately two-tenths of a mile east of its intersection with Mill Pond Road (State Route 701) in Alton.

Following the hearing supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the conditional use permit subject to 14 conditions. ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis and ED-8 Supervisor W. Bryant Claiborne were absent from the meeting.

Supervisors also received a monthly status report from Virginia Department of Transportation Residency Administrator Kenneth C. Martin and set two public hearings in upcoming months.

 The Halifax County Planning Commission is slated to hold a hearing in March, and the board of supervisors will hold its hearing April 7 on a conditional use permit by Cellco Partners for Verizon Wireless to erect a 199- foot telecommunications tower in ED-2 on the southeast side of James D. Hagood Highway (Highway 360), approximately one-third of a mile west of its intersection with Rodgers Chapel Road (State Route 607).

Although there is an existing tower within a mile of the proposed tower, Halasz said a structural report of that facility indicates it cannot support additional equipment.

Also scheduled for the planning commission in March and the supervisors’ meeting in April were hearings on a conditional use permit application from Denise and David Hudson for Hudson Heritage Farms to operate a bed and breakfast, farm store and teaching facility in ED-6.

The site is located at 14242 River Road on the north side of River Road (State Route 659), across from its intersection with Ashton Hall Road (State Route 662).

In other county business, supervisors took the following actions:

w Voted 5-0 to appoint Kathy Bane to fill a vacancy on the Halifax County Service Authority created when Major Wray’s term expired;

w Heard a request from ED-2 resident Ida Terry for the county to be more aggressive in asking Treasurer Linda Foster to collect delinquent taxes and urged supervisors not to give any extra money above the current year’s funding to the schools since the county is in compliance with the State Department of Education’s mandated funding;

w Listened as Donald Wright urged supervisors to promote the county’s emphasis on agriculture by focusing on its wide open spaces, forests and land that he described as “a gift” with which this area has been blessed;

w Heard a request from Beth Car Baptist Church Pastor Mike Parnell and Dan River Baptist Association Coordintor Dot Carr to adopt a resolution supporting Operation Inasmuch which declares the week of Sept. 7-13 as “Operation Inasmuch Week” and calls upon citizens to assist each other in random acts of kindness done in a spirit of fellowship and love such as lending a helping hand by doing small and large acts of kindness to each other; and

w Listened to a complaint from Nathalie resident Bernard Mitzler concerning trash littering the county’s roadways.

At the conclusion of the meeting supervisors went behind closed doors and when they emerged, supervisors approved the restructuring and hiring of a management assistant position.  

The funds for the position are included in the current and proposed budget under agricultural development.  

Halasz explained the restructured position will primarily perform existing duties and activities of agricultural marketing and development but also will perform duties and work on special projects of a general administrative nature.   

It is anticipated the position will be advertised as soon as possible, and a search will be held to fill the position, according to the county administrator.