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.

How Walker Works – Development Authority

Since the 1960’s, the Walker County Development Authority has worked to recruit and retain business and industry in our community.  Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director sums it up like this, “We turn dirt into jobs, that is our mission… and jobs help families.”

The Development Authority consists of six members: one from LaFayette, one from Chickamauga, one from Rossville, one from the county and two at-large members.  While represented by the cities and county, the authority operates independently, as established by the state of Georgia.

Serving as the first point of contact, the Development Authority connects a prospective industry with available buildings and land, workforce data, permitting agencies and other community information.  “Property that would be owned by the Development Authority would certainly be marketable to prospective new businesses and also private landowners would contact us and ask us to put their property that would be suitable for industrial development into our database/inventory of available property,” explained Wardlaw.

The Development Authority is also the only entity in Walker County that can offer incentives, such as tax abatements, bond financing or free land, among other considerations.  Wardlaw said, “All of these things are carefully weighed to their appropriateness through what value is the prospective industry going to bring to the citizens of the county.”

The Development Authority holds public meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. at the Walker County Civic Center.

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Developers Sought for Former Coats American Property in Walker County

Coats American Building

Rossville, GA – The Walker County Development Authority (WCDA) moved forward with plans this week to put the former Coats American property in Rossville on the market. The WCDA issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from area business leaders and others to purchase the eight acre site.

In addition to submitting a monetary offer, potential buyers should describe their plans for the property, including anticipated job creation and how the 300,000 square foot building on the grounds would be revitalized. A document verifying a potential buyer’s financial ability to purchase and develop the property should also be included.

Coats MapThe Coats American site is adjacent to the former Peerless Mill, which was recently purchased for redevelopment. It is located two miles from Interstate 24, eight miles from the Chattanooga Airport and within 30 miles of over 600,000 people. The property at 122 Maple Street features up to 10 gigabit per second fiber optic Internet access, sewer and parking. The current building configuration includes three phase power, varied ceiling heights and multiple loading docks.

The WCDA chose to issue the RFP after being contacted by several potential developers. Robert Wardlaw, WCDA Chair, expressed an interest in making a final decision to sell based on what makes sense for the city of Rossville’s future.

RFP documentation must be submitted to the WCDA by February 28th and will be reviewed at the Authority’s March 13th meeting. Submission guidelines are available on the WCDA and Walker County Government websites, or by contacting Robert Wardlaw, WCDA Chair, at 706-996-7971 or robertwardlaw4@me.com.