City officials sign papers for $9.5 M bonds issue

Published 9:52 am Thursday, August 13, 2015

The city of Vicksburg will be $9.5 million richer by noon Thursday.

“Once the wire (transfer) is initiated, it will be cleared, and once it is cleared, it will be deposited in your account,” Demery Grubbs of Government Consultants of Jackson, a government financing and consulting firm, told Mayor George Flaggs Jr. Wednesday. “Everything should be done by noon tomorrow. Historically, we try to get everything done by noon.”

Grubbs’ comments came at a meeting in Flaggs’ office Wednesday morning to sign the bond papers for the loan, which is being borrowed at 3.11 percent interest rate with a total payout of $12.18 million (principal and interest) by the time the board makes its final payment on the loan.

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Flaggs said the money would be deposited in a special account at BancorpSouth. The money is the first part of an $18 million bond issue for capital improvements. The board has two years to decide whether to borrow the $8.5 million balance.

“This is a great day for Vicksburg,” Flaggs said. “I think when you add all the enhancements (projects) to the city, I think you’re going to see a difference in an increase of sales tax and some other things that will enhance the general fund.”

Grubbs said the bond payments are structured so the city will pay only interest on the loan for the first two years, with the first payment due June 2016. The city will not pay any principal in the loan until 2018, when two bond issues from 2003 and 2007 are paid off. The board refinanced the loans in 2014.

“We structured this issue in such away that it does not implicate (affect) your millage (property tax),” Grubbs said. “In other words, you’re not putting millage on to cover this debt. You have sufficient money in your bond and interest fund to pay your interest rate.

“The big thing y’all did is you went back to the market and got your (bond) rating back,” Grubbs said. “We would never have been here if you hadn’t got that rating back. It was a giant step.”

The city’s A2 bond rating was pulled in 2012 by Moody’s Investment Services, a New York-based provider of credit ratings and risk analysis, which cited a lack of current information on city finances because of incomplete audits dating back to 2008. The rating was restored in July 2014.

Flaggs in December said he would seek a bond issue to finance capital improvements to upgrade city buildings, recreation facilities and resurface streets, and board issued the call for the bond issue in May. The board Monday authorized City Clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids for paving streets in the South Ward.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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