Refinancing of bonds for new courthouse expected to save nearly $2 million in interest

Some good news for local taxpayers was shared at last Friday morning’s regular meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners.

The meeting was at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro.

An update was shared at the meeting about the refinancing of bonds which were issued for the construction of Union County’s new courthouse.

Refinancing of the bonds is expected to save taxpayers about $2 million. The savings will be realized as a result of the bonds being retired nearly seven years earlier than had been anticipated.

The update about refinancing of the bonds was shared with county officials by John Vezzetti, a representative from Bernardi Securities.

Bernardi Securities issued the courthouse project bonds. In 2010, $14.5 million in general obligation bonds were issued for the construction of a new courthouse. The new courthouse opened in 2013.

Vezzetti praised all of the work which has gone into refinancing of the bonds.

Final payment of the bonds originally had been slated for the year 2042. Refinancing will move that up to 2035. The action is expected to result in nearly $2 million in interest savings.

The county levies a 1 percent public facility sales tax to generate funds for bond payments. The tax was approved by voters.

County administrator Angie Johnson said the tax generates around $80,000 to $85,000 per month. Payments for the courthouse bonds are around $870,000 to $880,000 each year.

Once the final payment for the bonds has been made, the sales tax will no longer be collected.

In a related matter, it was reported at Friday’s meeting that the county has received its first credit rating, an A-plus, from Standard & Poor’s. 

Vezzetti said that county officials should be “very proud” of the rating. The rating also will lead to major financial savings for the county.

County board chairman Max Miller commended all of those who worked on securing the credit rating.

“This A-plus rating speaks highly of the board,” Miller said. “We’ve made some good decisions.”

Commissioner David Gould noted that the action will result in savings for the citizens of Union County.

Other Business

Taxes Collected, Distributed

In other business at Friday’s meeting, Union County Treasurer Leigh Burns reported that 94 percent of this year’s property taxes had been collected.

The treasurer reports that a total of $14,278,201.22 has been distributed to the county’s taxing districts.

The first of two distributions totalled $8,866,779.91. The second distribution totalled $5,411,421.30.

County board chairman Miller praised the work which was done to generate this year’s tax bills, which were mailed a month earlier than last year.

The county administrator shared an update on work which continues on the drafting of a Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget. The county’s new fiscal year begins on Dec. 1. 

The budget is expected to be on the county’s board agenda for each upcoming meeting until the work has been finalized. 

Regional Superintendent’s Report

Regional superintendent of schools Cheryl Graff presented a quarterly report to county officials. Graff is regional superintendent for schools in Union, Alexander, Jackson, Perry and Pulaski counties.

Graff reported about the first distribution of funds to the county’s school districts which are generated by a 1 percent sales tax. The tax was approved by voters.

The funds are to be used for the building or repair of school facilities, to refund bonds or to abate property taxes levied to pay bonds issued for capital purposes.

Allocations to the county’s school districts, which are based on enrollment included:

Anna-Jonesboro Community High School District No. 81, $16,819.19.

Anna Elementary School District No. 37, $22,706.75.

Cobden School District No. 17, $15,469.60.

Dongola School District No. 66, $9,320.56.

Jonesboro School District No. 43, $11,690.77.

Lick Creek School District No. 16, $4,816.33.

Shawnee School District No. 84, $3,525.79.

Road Name Changes

A review is underway regarding the process which goes into requesting a change in the name of a county road. The costs of implementing such a request are one of the matters under review.

Collective Bargaining Agreement

A three-year collective bargaining agreement has been reached between the county and the Union County Sheriff’s Office/Fraternal Order of Police.

Marriage Licenses

Union County Clerk Lance Meisenheimer reported that beginning January 2020, people will be able to fill out marriage license applications online. Meisenheimer said Union County will be only the second county in Illinois to have such a service.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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