Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Local Government Commission Approves Columbus County Financing for New Schools Atrium Health $165 Million Bond Refinancing Also Receives Favorable Commission Vote

Atrium Health $165 Million Bond Refinancing Also Receives Favorable Commission Vote
Raleigh, NC
Jan 12, 2022

(Raleigh, N.C.) — Columbus County Schools will be able to proceed with construction of Tabor City School, consolidating aging elementary and middle schools into one campus, now that the Local Government Commission (LGC) has approved a $27.9 million financing package sought by Columbus County.

Columbus County Schools, a 5,600-student district encompassing 17 schools, will use a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund construction of the two-story school. It will make payments on an installment purchase contract over time without the need for a tax increase.

The LGC’s approval of that financing method was necessary due to the commission’s statutory duty to review and approve most debt issued by more than 1,100 local government units. The commission examines whether the amount of money units borrow is adequate and reasonable for proposed projects and confirms the governmental units can reasonably afford to repay the debt.

“It’s getting ready to be an exciting time for the town,” Columbus County Schools Associate Superintendent Jonathan Williams was quoted in local media as saying.

“These are the types of projects LGC members are pleased to approve after careful vetting to ensure they are in the best interests of taxpayers and residents,” said State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, who chairs the LGC. Department of State Treasurer employees staff the LGC.

“This project will provide students with a modern building and state-of-the-art classrooms in which they have an opportunity to learn in an educational environment they deserve regardless of the zip code where they live,” Treasurer Folwell said.

Among other items on the agenda the LGC approved at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 11, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, more commonly known as Atrium Health, was given the go-ahead on a plan to refinance up to $165 million in bonds. The lower interest rate will save the authority $30.2 million.

Atrium is one of the largest health systems in the nation. Its network includes 42 hospitals, and freestanding emergency departments, urgent care centers and other medical locations staffed by a total of 70,000 employees. It will sell the tax-exempt bonds on a 21-year term on Jan. 26.

The city of Charlotte (Mecklenburg County) was granted approval to pursue an $11 million revolving loan to install 30,000 feet of drinking water lines in southeast Charlotte. The work is necessary for distribution system reliability.

The LGC gave approval to the city of Washington (Beaufort County) for a $6.6 million installment purchase contract to build a municipal police station. Hurricane Florence flooded the old police station in 2018, and operations have since been conducted out of a temporary facility.

Bessemer City (Gaston County) was given approval for nearly $5 million in financing for a water treatment plant, and water and sewer projects.

Pamlico County’s plan for a $3 million revolving loan for water treatment improvements was approved. The work is necessary to address contaminants that are not treated or removed by the current water treatment process.

The town of Nags Head (Dare County) received LGC approval for a $1.2 million installment purchase contract to buy a property to house a joint fire station and Dare County EMS station.

The LGC postponed its decision pending additional information on the town of Pembroke (Robeson County) for a $1.1 million revolving loan to replace underperforming components of the town’s aging wastewater treatment plant, which would allow for continuous and more reliable operations will be possible.

LGC members approved several cost-saving refinancing and refunding proposals at lower interest rates, including:

Government Unit Financing Amount Savings
Holly Springs (Wake County) $17.5 million $1.6 Million
Brunswick County $11.2 million $713,021
Morehead City (Carteret County) $7 million $4.7 million
Town of Leland (Brunswick County) $5.8 million $314,000, and secure an installment purchase contract to build a new fire station