County to borrow $9.5 million for purchase of Rentech property

Published 12:07am Friday, June 7, 2013

NATCHEZ — By silent consent, the taxpayers of Adams County gave the board of supervisors permission to go to the bank for a $9.5 million loan.

Thursday morning was the deadline by which county residents had to file a written objection to the board’s plan to seek $9.5 million in bonds to finance its purchase for the 478-acre Rentech property near the Natchez-Adams County Port.

That objection never came, and shortly after the 9 a.m. deadline the supervisors adopted resolutions of no protest and a notice of bond sale.

Board Attorney Scott Slover said the board will now be in a position receive bond bids.

During the brief meeting, the board also had to designate Natchez Inc. and the Natchez Inc. board as an economic development authority in order to proceed with the bond process.

The reason for the designation was to remain in compliance with state law governing the acquisition of bonds.

Slover said that when the former Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority was disbanded and Natchez Inc. was created, the county inadvertently removed some of the EDA’s powers and so Natchez Inc. had to be named as an EDA to recommend the county to take out the bond.

“We thought we could take out the bond as a port issue, but this didn’t fall under the port statute because it was really an acquisition for real property,” he said. “Under this statute, (Natchez Inc.) would recommend we take out the bond.”

“At this point I don’t see them turning around on this purchase since the real push came from Natchez Inc. to begin with.”

Slover said because the newly formed EDA and Natchez Inc. serve the same purpose and are comprised of the same people, the two will eventually be combined.

The county entered into a binding agreement with Rentech to buy the former International Paper site in late April.

Rentech put the property — which it bought in 2008 for a coal-to-liquid facility that was never built — for sale earlier this year. Rentech paid $9.5 million for the property.

When the agreement for the county was reached in late April, Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said five industrial clients were expressing interest in the property, and that Natchez Inc. was also working with the county’s competing bidders about the use of the property.

Before the agreement to purchase from Rentech was made, the county had only 4.5 acres of marketable property in the industrial park port area.