Cash flow brings up questions for board of supervisors

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors met Monday to discuss the county’s cash flow through the end of the year.

The issues in particular were tied to roof repairs at county-owned buildings and the construction of the FEMA 361 storm shelter project.

The 10,000-square foot FEMA 361 shelter’s $3.4 million construction is being funded by a grant, but the county has to pay for the building upfront and later be reimbursed for the expenses, County Administrator Joe Murray said.

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“We had a $200,000 invoice that came in the other day that needs to be paid,” he said. “With the previous few months there have been delays from FEMA because of the new pay system, but between here and January we are looking at more than $1 million (in payments due). They say they will start to send some serious invoices soon.”

The reimbursement process usually takes a month, Murray said.

“My fear is that if we start throwing $500,000 payments and there is any kind of delay, it could be a problem,” he said.

The last quarter of the calendar year is often one in which local governments have to operate on a shoestring until significant tax revenues start coming in during January.

Finance attorney Sam Keyes told the board they could consider a grant anticipation line of credit to pay the shelter invoices.

“Basically, it is a line of credit for an amount not to exceed amount of the grant,” Keyes said. “You can draw on it and pay it back as you need it, and the security is the reimbursement from (FEMA).”

The roof issues were for the Department of Human Services, the Adams County jail and the annex at the Adams County courthouse.

Murray said even if the county ultimately decides to build a new jail — as has been recently discussed — the existing building needs to be fixed now.

The masonry on the jail likewise needs to be repaired, Murray said, and other repairs inside the jail could cost approximately $2.5 million.

“The roof on the annex portion of the courthouse has been there since 1976,” he said. “It is a metal roof and you can literally go in there and poke your finger on it and poke through the tin is so thin.”

Financial advisor Demery Grubbs agreed the county needs to take care of its buildings.

“If you don’t take care of your buildings now, it is going to cost you more than this,” he said. “With the jail, roof and mortar (repairs) secures the building, and then you can make the final decision about the rest of the $2.5 million, whether it be new construction or remodel, but looking at your cash flow I don’t think I would do the $2.5 million today.”

The roof at the Department of Human Services and courthouse are costing the county approximately $160,000 each, while the roof and mortar repairs at the jail are approximately $260,000.

“We are trying to do everything within our power to better the existing jail, but we are looking at spending a minimum amount of money that is reasonable to keep the outcry for a new jail to a minimum,” Supervisor Calvin Butler said after the meeting.

In addition to the grant anticipation line of credit, the supervisors asked Grubbs to look into a 5-year note plan to pay for the roof repairs.

Some of the county’s existing debt could be restructured to include the new borrowing and rolled into a 5-year note, Grubbs said.

The county could also save $40,000 to $50,000 annually through refinancing some of its bonds, he said.