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County Debt drops under $400K

By Greg Bird

Within the next two years the majority of the long-term debt owed by the McCreary County Fiscal Court should be off the books, potentially opening the door to a larger capacity to borrow more money in the future.
According to fiscal year-end financial data released by the McCreary County Fiscal Court last week the County ended the fiscal year with debts totaling just over $1.26 million.
Of that total debt, $885,000 is carried on the County’s liabilities, but is not actually owed by the County. The debt is from the 1999 courthouse renovation and is paid by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Deducting that from the overall liabilities owed by the County leaves just $316,320 in long-term debt owed by the County at the end of June. One of those debts, for an asphalt truck was retired in July, leaving a total debt of about $300,000 for the next administration next January. The asphalt truck loan was first obtained in 2008 for $117,000.
When Judge Executive Doug Stephens took office in 2011 the Fiscal Court carried over $1.2 million in liabilities, not including the Courthouse bond issue.
The largest outstanding liability owed by the county is a 2012 loan for part of the courthouse renovation project. The total balance remaining on the loan stands at $125,663 as of June 30. The final payment for the loan is scheduled for 2022.
Other liabilities owed by the County at the end of the previous fiscal year include: debt service on two ambulances. The first loan was issued in 2016 for a total of $100,500 (interest included). As of the end of June $59,363 was still owed, with the final payment scheduled for 2021.
The second ambulance loan, totaling $53,196 was issued this year and will be paid off in 2021 as well.
Final payment for the remodel and upgrade for the 911 Center will come due in 2020. That loan, originally for $50,000 was issued in 2015.
Another loan that will end soon is for the multi generational building at the park that was issued in 2009 for $500,000. The final payment for that loan will come due in September of next year.
Inherited debts that have been retired since Stephens took office included the loan on the jail – paid off in 2014, old 911 equipment that had been refinanced in 2002 and paid off in 2012, three ambulances and two Mack Trucks.
Not included in the debt calculations is the $259,292 settlement from the 10 Commandments legal battle that was issued in 2012 and paid off in 2016.
The debts that will come off the books over the next two years should increase the ability for the Fiscal Court to secure a larger loan in the future. Borrowing ability is based off of total income compared to debt. With less debt on the books, the next administration could possibly leverage the position to finance a large-scale project, such as a new jail facility.
This past year, when the jail feasibility study was released, it was stated the bonding capacity for the county stood at around $9 million at the time. In two years that capacity should increase to more than $10 million if no other debts are accrued and revenues remain constant.

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