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County Commission to move forward with loan commitment

By ZACHARY SEIFTER/ Staff Writer

 

The Chilton County Commission approved a resolution by a vote of 5-1 to move forward with a loan commitment from Marion Bank and Trust Company during a meeting on May 25.

Commission Chairman Joseph Parnell and Commissioners Jimmie Hardee, Darrell Bone, Matthew Mims, Joe Headley and Randall Kelley voted in favor of the resolution to move forward with the loan commitment. Commissioner Allen Williams voted against the resolution.

The loan would be for $10 million to be used to purchase property off Exit 212. The acquisition of the property, located in the Commercial Cooperative District, would allow the commission to develop the area and establish a retail district at the entrance of the Alabama Farm Center.

The commission has 30 days to accept the loan commitment from Marion Bank, and should they accept the commitment they will have 60 days to execute the loan documents and close the deal on the loan.

The loan would need to be paid off in 24 months. The commission would be allowed to draw back as needed and can pay the loan back whenever they choose within the 24 months. Should the commission choose to take a bank-qualified tax-free interest rate, they will pay 2.9% interest on the loan. Should they do a taxable loan the interest rate will be 3.65%.

“The reason the ownership is essential of that property is that for us to do what we committed to the taxpayers of Chilton County to do, and that was allow this new development to pay for whatever was going to have to be paid for by Chilton County, and the taxpayers not having to carry that burden,” Parnell said. “For us to be able to do that it is essential for us to be able to establish a retail district, and that retail district … would allow us to be able to assess fees, which will be a fee or tax … that would just be on that 212 exit outside of the city limits. That would be the money we use to pay for whatever funding that we’re going to have to come up with based on the size and scope of the Exhibition Hall.”

Parnell also explained that should someone else come in and buy the property, it would essentially keep the commission from being able to pay its portion of the Exhibition Hall development without using tax-payer money.

Also discussed during the meeting was an update from attorney Roger Bates on the development of the Farm Center project. Progress has been made in designs and plans for construction, thanks to a coordination meeting held last week in which Bates met with representatives involved with the Farm Center. In the meeting, the representatives were able to discuss what remained to be done, and hashed out some plans on how to move forward with the project.