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County saves funds due to lower rates
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Plunging interest rates have enabled the Liberty County Commission to refinance the bond funding for the Justice Center, saving about $825,000.

The commissioners and the public facilities authority approved the bond measure last week. Bond counsel Jim Pannel told the commissioners that when the current agreement was signed in 2017, “I didn’t think interest yields could go any lower,” but further drops made it desirable for the county to redeem all the 2017 bond issue held by Ameris Bank and issue a new Series 2020 tranche of bonds.

County Administrator Joey Brown said the Moody bond rating service had just upgraded the county to an Aa3 rating. This means the bonds are of high quality and subject to very low credit risk. “This is good news for everyone,” said Chairman Donald Lovette.

In other business last Tuesday the commissioners granted a zoning variance for a sign, overruling a recommendation from the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission. BeSeen Outdoor Advertising will be allowed to place a sign 750 feet from other billboards near the intersection of U.S. Highway 84 and the Leroy Coffer Highway. Usual separation is 1,000 feet.

The commission gave Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones authority to add an additional full time position to his staff. Jones gave the commissioners a six-page document outlining the need for the staffer: “COVID-19 has simply caused a need for personnel change to become a more urgent matter.”

Jones said that two full time employees are out on family/medical leave, another is on maternity leave and still another is recuperating following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Staffing the Midway satellite office and meeting increasing state mandates are becoming more difficult.

The tax commissioner’s office was closed July 24 through August 5 because of COVID-19 exposures, causing a back-up of work to accumulate.

Commissioners and County Engineer Trent Long discussed road and street work with an eye toward using $354,000 in Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant funds. Targeted roadwork includes Yeomans Road and Mt. Olivet Church Road.

Long said that while Liberty County voters had imposed a Transportation Local Option Sales Tax it was not part of a regional TSPLOST and the county must match 30 percent of LMIG funds. The local match will amount to $106,000.

The commissioners adopted a new format agreement with Fort Stewart for holding prisoners. The county will receive $69 daily for each person confined for Fort Stewart.

Brittany Frasier was appointed to serve an unexpired term on the county Department of Family Service board.

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