Walker County Refinances Bonds, Saving Taxpayers Nearly $4 Million

LaFayette, GA – A plan put in motion two-months ago to refinance a series of previously issued revenue bonds will save Walker County taxpayers nearly four-million dollars.

Moody’s Investor Services assigned an A1 credit rating to Walker County for the Series 2019 bonds, which replace Series 2015 bonds.  Four years ago, the county’s credit was considered to be junk by the financial industry, which resulted in a high interest rate and additional fees.

Moody’s based its rating on “the county’s recovering financial position following years of structural imbalances that substantially eroded the county’s reserves and liquidity, resolution of the county’s outstanding liability with the hospital authority,” and other factors involving economics and local government finances.

The improved credit rating, along with an increased demand for bond products in the market this week, helped the underwriter sell the Series 2019 bonds at a low rate of 2.64%, a significant improvement from the original rate of 5.2% tied to the Series 2015 bonds.

“The taxpayers of Walker County are the real winners today,” said Commissioner Shannon Whitfield.  “Together, we’ve worked hard to restore our county’s credibility by targeting debt reduction.  The fruits of that labor are starting to be realized.  We reduced the term on this bond by nearly five years, which will save the taxpayers $3,921,475.”

The Walker County Development Authority (WCDA) issued the Series 2015 bonds on behalf of Walker County Government, in order to fund the completion of infrastructure at the Walker County Industrial Park and provide funding for basic county government operations.

Commissioner Whitfield signed off on the $14.5 million bond purchase agreement during a called meeting today.

Walker County Announces Plan to Lower Millage Rate

LaFayette, GA – When property owners in Walker County receive their tax notices later this year, they will see a slight decrease in the county’s portion of the millage rate.

Commissioner Shannon Whitfield plans to reduce the rate for residents in both the unincorporated and incorporated areas of the county.

The new rate of 9.822 mills for Walker County residents in unincorporated locations represents a 0.16% reduction in county taxes.

City residents will experience a 0.28% decrease, as the tax rate for property owners in incorporated areas will be set at 13.293 mills.

The lower tax rate comes on the heels of Walker County Government ending the “Public Health Facilities and Services District,” aka the Erlanger fee, for this upcoming tax cycle.  These two developments mean those with property valued at $100,000 will save over $140 from the county’s portion of the tax bill this year, although changes made by other taxing authorities may impact an individual taxpayers overall savings.

“The days of lease purchases and loans are behind us,” said Commissioner Whitfield.  “We continue to reduce debt, operate on a fiscally responsible budget and explore creative options to enhance revenue, so we can hold the line on property taxes.  The sacrifices endured over the past two and a half years have positioned Walker County to grow and prosper as we progress into the next decade.”

The new millage rate will be adopted at the Commissioner’s Regular Meeting on August 8th at 6:00 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex III building, located at 201 S Main Street in LaFayette.

Walker County Tax Digest 2019

Walker County to Refinance Previously Issued Bonds, Saving Taxpayers Over Two-Million Dollars

Rock Spring, GA – A proposal to refinance a series of revenue bonds could result in over two-million dollars in savings to Walker County taxpayers.

The Walker County Development Authority (WCDA) issued the Series 2015 bonds on behalf of Walker County Government, in order to fund the completion of infrastructure and dirt work at the Walker County Industrial Park.

Four years ago, WCDA issued the bonds contingent on the county being financially obligated for all fees, interest and payments.  WCDA also made obtaining over $17.5 million in Series 2015 bonds contingent upon receiving a rate not to exceed 7.5%.  This year, based on Walker County’s improved financial conditions, WCDA proposes to refinance the remaining balance of the bonds contingent upon receiving a rate not to exceed 4.9%.

As part of the refinancing process, Walker County expects to receive an upgraded credit rating, due to the same improvements in the county’s balance sheet and financial outlook that would allow the lower interest rate cap.

“One of the top priorities of my administration has been to get our financial house in order.  Restoring Walker County’s credit rating makes lower rates like this possible for existing debt,” said Commissioner Shannon Whitfield.  “The latest audit shows our balance sheet in a much stronger position than in 2015.  This allows us to turn yet another page in our shared journey together toward freedom from crippling county debt. We are thrilled this will save the taxpayers of Walker County millions of dollars.”

WCDA approved the bond resolution at its meeting on Tuesday, June 11th.  Commissioner Shannon Whitfield will review the proposal at his meeting on Thursday, June 13th.  Once the bonding agency has received final interest rate terms, both government entities will make a decision on whether to move forward with the refinancing proposal.