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$20M bond approved; county bond rating among best in Mississippi

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors are moving forward with road and building projects, accepting a bid and adopting a resolution awarding the sale of a $20 million bond during their meeting last week.

Financial adviser Demery Grubbs and Sue Fairbank with Butler Snow Law Firm told the board there were two bids and advised accepting First Tennessee Financial Capital Market with an interest rate of 2.919395.

Grubbs added that the county has not been rated in several years because officials have not issued bonds in quite a while. The rating agency gave the county a AA bond rating, which is among the best counties in the state.

“You are one of the four or five counties in the state who have a AA bond rating,” Grubbs said.

Grubbs said the bonds are premium bonds, which means extra revenue is added into the bonds. That means the county will receive an additional $825,000.

The bond will help pay for two new roads — Oxford Loop and Sisk Avenue extensions — and the new Lafayette County Office Park on County Road 406.

In anticipation of the new roads, the supervisors approved a 1 mill increase last summer for this year and it could mean an additional 1 mill increase for county residents next year.

In a previous meeting, Fairbank told the supervisors the intent resolution does not bind the supervisors to spend the full $20 million.

Supervisor Chad McLarty said if the county does have to spend the full $20 million, there will likely be another millage increase next year.

“Lafayette County greatly needs these projects,” he said at the board’s regular meeting. “I’m not a big fan of borrowing a lot of money, but this is the right step.”

The board unanimously approved to adopt the obligation bond.

Projects detailed

West Oxford Loop will be extended to join with Old Sardis Road and Sisk Avenue will eventually be extended to join University Avenue. The county and city of Oxford are sharing costs for the Oxford Loop Extension; however, the county will pay for the Sisk Avenue extension.

With the Mississippi Department of Transportation purchasing county property for the Highway 7 expansion, county officials needed to relocate several agencies, including the Department of Human Services, and Child Protective Services, as well as the Mississippi Highway Patrol office. Officials have also decided to relocate the WIN Job Center and the county coroner office and have partnered with the city of Oxford for a new justice court and municipal court facility. The plan also calls for a transit station to allow bus commuters to access the facility. Future development includes a multi-purpose facility, as well as an amphitheater and three-plus acre pond.

Construction manager

Also on Tuesday, the board approved hiring a construction manager for the office park project, although it was not unanimous. Innovative Construction Management, which has done several projects at the university including The Pavilion at Ole Miss and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, was hired to do the job.

President Jeff Busby doesn’t believe a construction manager is needed.

“If we were building The Pavilion or a parking garage, I would see the need to bring someone on board like ICM,” Busby said.

Supervisor Kevin Frye disagreed and said it is very much needed.

“If we’re going to design a public building, we need to make sure it’s done right,” Frye said.

Frye and supervisors Mike Roberts and David Rikard voted in favor, while Busby and McLarty both voted nay.

Supervisors also approved the low bid received by East Oxford Water Association from Cleveland Construction in the amount of $108,525.50 to serve the county office complex.