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County unveils long-term plan to reduce debt

NATCHEZ — Adams County officials say they will have the existing debt substantial reduced by 2016.

The Natchez Democrat reports that the board of supervisors recently reviewed its projected debt service plan on the current debt of $11 million.

In the 2010 fiscal year, which ends Thursday, the county paid $2.96 million on principal and interest payments for bonds and loans.

For 2011, the county has budgeted to pay $2.24 million.

The debt includes bond issues and short- and long-term borrowing.

Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Beirne told supervisors that by 2016, the county should have paid off enough of its long- and short-term debt to owe only $817,000.

O’Beirne said general obligation bonds can often be paid off in up to 20 to 30 years,

O’Beirne said since the county’s bond rating was downgraded in 2009 to “questionable credit quality,” the county is likely refrain from entering long-term bonds until the bond rating is reassessed.

Negotiable notes are similar to general obligation bonds but must be paid off on a shorter term, such as three to five years, O’Beirne said.

O’Beirne said lease-purchase loans are often used on items such as automobiles or equipment. Once lease purchase loans are paid off, the county owns the item.

He said the existing bond debt should be paid off completely at the end of the 2012 fiscal year, when a final payment of $568,980 will be made.

Existing lease-purchase loans should be paid off completely at the end of the 2014 fiscal year with a final payment of $92,108.

O’Beirne said the debt analysis does not include loans for projects that will come up in the future — only payments on cumulative debt that has been built up over the years.

O’Beirne said the county is making progress to get out of debt because the supervisors have been careful about borrowing money unless they find it necessary.

Board of Supervisors president Darryl Grennell said the board has made an effort to reduce debt as much as possible.

“That’s something we’ve been working on for several years. We’ve gone down from $20 million down to $11 million (recently, in cumulative debt).”

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