LANCASTER — Officials from Berea College spoke before magistrates during Monday’s Garrard County Fiscal Court meeting. The college is seeking to refinance some of its old debt in an effort to save the school money.
However, in order to do this and receive the tax-exempt bonds, they must use a “conduit issuer” according to Chris Bowling, on behalf of the college. Bowling explained entities such as fiscal courts are allocated up to $10 million in bonds each year.
Madison County, the city of Berea, and the city of Richmond have all three already gotten close to the mark and, if they were to approve this request, it would cause them to “bust through” the limit.
Therefore, the college came before Garrard County, which has not gotten close to the allocation.¿These allocations reset Jan. 1, 2013, the second reason the college waited until now to bring the request before the court.
According to Bowling, there are several connections between Garrard and Berea, including staff members who live in Garrard, outreach programs from the college to the county, and students who have attended the school who are from Garrard. In the past seven years, 23 Garrard students were able to attend Berea, which operates free of charge to students, instead requiring them to work and participate in service projects while at the school.
To educate those 23 students, Berea College alum and lawyer Judge Wilson said it cost about $25,000 per student. However, the refinancing would save the school enough money to pay for four to five students a year.
Officials assured the magistrates the city would not be at risk, no matter what happens to the college. Even if Berea College were sued, according to Mark Metcalf, attorney for Garrard County, it would be up to the college to cover those costs, including any attorneys' fees incurred by the county.
Magistrates agreed to hear an ordinance for the request. They expect to have the first reading of this ordinance before the month ends.
Magistrate Doan Adkison was absent from the meeting.
In other news:
- The magistrates heard the first reading on a budget amendment. They also heard the second reading and adopted a different budget amendment. Both amendments occurred after the county received funds, which were not anticipated and, therefore, had to be built into the budget in order to accept.
- Babette Overman, chairman of the Garrard County Solid Waste Community Committee, encouraged magistrates to attend their meeting on Nov. 26, to educate themselves about upcoming events in the county, as well as programs that are being put into action. She expressed that citizens are going to be asking questions about these items and the best way to serve the citizens would be to learn about them, in order to answer those questions.
- November is National Hospice Month. In honor of that, Emily Toadvine from Heritage Hospice spoke with the magistrates, sharing the opportunities offered by the organization.
“Hospice has really touched everybody in some way,” Judge-executive John Wilson said. He told Toadvine that the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Ppreparedness Program signs would inform people of National Hospice Month.
She also shared Hosopice will be having an event honoring veterans Monday following Veteran’s Day Sunday. Toadvine encouraged all veterans to attend the event.
- The Garrard County Fiscal Court reviewed the bids for the courthouse Annex renovations. They determined Lexington Construction LLC would be awarded the bid, at an estimated $122,375, with the stipulation that the references be checked.
Magistrates Ronnie Lane and Joe Leavell expressed desires to hire local contractors, however, both agreed that the bid from Lexington Construction, which was about $10,000 lower than the nearest offer, was the wisest decision.
- The Fiscal Court went into executive session in order to discuss personnel matters and a real estate issue. No action was taken during the session.