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News Commissioners find ways to save taxpayers money

L-R: County Attorney Chester Jones, County Commissioner Chairman Kevin Corbin, BB&T representative Lewis Lloyd, County Manager Jack Horton, and County Finance Director Lori Hall.Although the economy is slowly starting to improve, people across the country are still looking for ways to save a penny wherever possible. Without having to increase taxes in the county and operating on the lowest tax rate in the state, the Macon County Board of Commissioners continues to closely examine the budget to find new ways to save taxpayer dollars to help the county through the recession.

With the best interest of citizens in mind, commissioners voted Tuesday night to approve modifications to two existing loans with BB&T bank, which will save the county $51,000 the first year.

After working with BB&T to secure an interest rate of 1.44 percent on a $1.5 million loan for new computers for the school system, County Finance Director Lori Hall worked with the bank to reach an agreement on modifications to two loans which date back to 2005.

The older loan, which the county took out to finance the library and Southwestern Community College Macon campus, was originally $5 million at a 3.48 percent interest rate over 15 years. The modification will now allow the county to continuing paying that loan, which is nearly half paid off, at a lower interest rate of 2.19 percent for the remaining $2,666,667. The county has until 2020 to pay off the loan in its entirety and will save a total of $140,848 over the life of the loan.

The county also received a modification from BB&T for a $2.6 million loan taken out in 2007 on the Sanders/Owens property which was purchased to construct Mountain View Intermediate school. Originally the loan was financed at a 3.69 percent interest rate for 15 years, but with the modifications, the county secured a new interest rate of 2.49 percent, with approximate overall savings of $109,612.

“We negotiated the rates with BB&T and were successful because the county's strong financial record which is in part due to the county's healthy fund balance,” said Commissioner Chairman Kevin Corbin.

Under the suggestion of commissioner Jimmy Tate, the board came to a general consensus to allow Hall to look at the county's other loans with BB&T for loans taken out to build Mountain View Intermediate and East Franklin Elementary school to see if even more money could be saved.

Ambulances approved

The Macon County Emergency Service Department received approval from county commissioners on Tuesday night for two new ambulances, which came in significantly under budget.

Earlier this month, commissioners had to reject all of the four bids they received for the two new ambulances due to a technicality. According to Emergency Management Director David Key, the first set of specs sent out to bid did not include a chair that makes transferring patients up and down stairs easier and safer. “Although it was in the original bid packet, when the bid proposal got uploaded to the website for all of the World Wide Web to see, somehow the chair in the ambulance got left out,” Key explained. “We went back and added the chair as an addendum to the bid proposal and three of the bids we received included the chair, but the fourth bid, which we think even with the chair would come in much lower than the others, did not include the addendum.”

County Attorney Chester Jones said that because of the discrepancy, the only fair and legal way to handle the oversight, was to reject all the bids then re-solicit the bids with the complete proposal.

Tuesday night, commissioners reconvened for a continuation meeting to re-evaluate the bids. After opening the second bidding process on Sept. 20, the county received five bids with the lowest bidder coming in at $200,966, about $60,000 less than expected.

The contract was awarded to Custom Truck & Body Works which submitted a bid of $200,966. Each of the five bids received came in under the expected $260,000, with the highest bid being from Northwestern Emergency Vehicle at $245,058.

After approving the bids, the company has to build both ambulances from the ground up, according to Key. Macon County will receive the new vehicles in 90 days.

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