Supervisors discuss bond rating

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 19, 2010

NATCHEZ — Adams County’s credit future could be looking brighter.

The board of supervisors called in financial advisor Demery Grubbs to discuss the possibility of having its bond-rating raise from ba1 to baa2.

Grubbs will be putting together a package for Moody’s Investor Service, which issues the bond ratings, to review.

“Can we borrow $6 million right now?” Grubbs asked. “You could, but you wouldn’t want to pay back the interest.

“Can we get back the (baa2) bond rating? That is a possibility.”

Grubbs said Adams County’s financial woes started on July 31, 2003, when International Paper closed down. When IP closed its doors, the county lost approximately $2 million in property taxes and has survived over the years by making interfund loans, Grubbs said.

While the county never ran a deficit overall, it did run consistent deficit since 2003 in the general county fund, due to making interfund loans to keep funds, including the road fund, going.

Moody’s Investment Services reviewed the bond rating when the general county deficit was at its highest point and when creditors were getting more cautious about loaning money, Grubbs said. Creditors take into account the general fund because it is the fund where debt is paid.

“The supervisors have done a good job in terms of keeping the county functional during this time,” Grubbs sad. “Ya’ll have survived, but you have to get back above now and rebuild confidence with the credit agency.”

Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Beirne reported the county no longer had a deficit in general funds.

Other factors contributing to the county’s case include the Corrections Corporation of America prison moving in and providing additional property tax revenue. He said Adams County also has capital expenditures, which are one time payments, and having them paid off will help the county’s case. Grubbs said the possibility of future industrial growth will also be a factor.

Grubbs said Adams County’s story impressed him and he hoped to have the package sent to Moody’s Investor Service by next week.

In other news:

4 Supervisors terminated County Administrator Cathy Walker for not showing up to Thursday’s meeting.

Walker submitted her resignation to the board a few weeks ago, but was continuing to work until March 31.

“This was a critical meeting in which we needed her assistance, and she was not here,” Board President Darryl Grennell said.

Former County Administrator Charlie Brown was named interim county administrator and will also be in charge of training the new administrator when he or she is hired.

Supervisor Henry Watts offered a motion that the district attorney, justice court, chancery clerk and circuit court offices submit a monthly revenue and expenses report, which passed unanimously.

Supervisors agreed to purchase a $400 weed trimmer for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

The board approved travel expenses for Inventory Clerk Angela Hutchins to attend an inventory clerk meeting in Jackson.

The board applied for a $36,058.68 Recovery Act Stop Violence Against Women Program Grant.