TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

June 18, 2014

Airport attempting to refinance

CORBIN — By Kristina Smith / Staff Writer

The Whitley County Fiscal Court has decided it needs further information before it agrees to be part of the refinancing of the Williamsburg-Whitley County Airport.

The regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday was smooth sailing until Judge/ Executive Pat White mentioned he had a couple other things to discuss that were not originally on the agenda. To begin that discussion White mentioned the Court had been asked to act as a guarantor on the refinancing of loans owed by the airport.

This refinancing would lower the airport’s interest rate on a $447,500 loan down from five percent to three percent. White said this would be a substantial savings to the airport board and encouraged Court members to agree to the refinancing plan. The airport would pay $3,108 a month in interest compared to the $4,130 a month they are paying now if the plan is approved, according to county treasurer Jeffrey Gray.

As part of the refinancing, the airport is consolidating all their individual loans into one large loan to be payed to Forcht Bank. The airport has also achieved tax exempt status from the Kentucky Revenue Service for the first 60 months of the loan.

The court would not be alone in this refinancing process, however. The court is guaranteeing 67 percent of the loan and the city of Williamsburg is guaranteeing the other 33 percent.

“There is some time constraint on this,” said White. “The airport has to refinance by June 30.”

But not all Court members were ready to commit to the refinancing plan. Second district magistrate David Myers wanted more information before he agreed.

“Where do we currently stand if they default?” Myers asked the court.

That was a question that no one had a direct answer to.

“I’d have to go back to documents from since the airport was created and look over every one of them to determine that,” said county attorney Robert Hammons.

“What if they default under this loan?” Myers also asked.

“Well then we would be responsible for the 67 percent we guaranteed,” said Hammons.

But Myers wasn’t sold.

“If I’m going to vote for this kind of money then I’m going to be responsible for it,” he said. “Why would we sign for this additional responsibility if we already have a responsibility toward them?”

Myers requested the court to have a special financing meeting so the airport could present them with more information on the loan. The court instead agreed to have their budget committee speak with the airport and make a decision from there.

“I trust that our budget committee knows what they’re doing,” said first district magistrate Roger Wells.

A motion was made by Wells to allow White to sign off on the loan upon recommendation of the committee. Myers seconded that motion.

But Myers wasn’t finished with his discussion concerning the airport.

Myers asked White if having airport property under a lease was the responsible thing to do. The court currently pays monthly for the lease and Myers is concerned the airport will some day hike the monthly asking price for that lease.

“The lease is astronomical as it is,” Myers said.

“Astronomical?” White asked. “It’s only $800 a month.”

White explained the airport is an asset to the county and that such a thing would never happen because it would be negotiated out.

“If we’re giving them $5,000 a month as is, and they want to ask for another thousand for the lease, then we would give them only $4,000 a month,” White said as an example. No further discussion was had concerning the lease.

In other Fiscal Court news:

—Jailer Ken Mobley sent a representative to ask for the court’s consideration in signing a contract to have jail nurses work 24 hours a day instead of the current 12 hours that they do work. Mobley believes this will save the county money from having to take inmates to the hospital. It was also said this will be at no cost to the county. However, jailer-elect Brian Lawson asked the court to not agree to the new nurse schedule because he is not sure if he will be able to afford to pay the nurses out of the canteen fund from the jail. The court agreed they needed to see canteen fund finances and tabled the discussion.

—The court agreed to award a bid for boring under Hemlock Drive. The project will cost an estimated $55,000 to $60,000 to complete but White was adamant about the necessity of the project despite some complaints on its costliness. The county was awarded $45,000 in a grant to go toward the project, however.

“So you’re satisfied that this is the best way to go?” Myers asked White.

“This is the cheapest way we could find,” White said. “You’re talking about a pretty substantial, earth-moving project here.”

“A few months ago we thought we were going to have to make emergency repairs,” said fourth district magistrate Robbie Brown.

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