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Monroe jail project to get funding it needed

Monroe County residents received some good news this week, when they learned that financing for the new jail there is on track to be secured ahead of a Sept. 10 deadline.

Earlier this month, county commissioners had talked with a financial adviser who was concerned that provisions had not been made to pay a short-term note that would come due in September. It seems that the county was counting on a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan, but the deal had not officially closed.

Monroe County Auditor Pandora Neuhart questioned the board Monday, saying she was “shocked” to learn the county may not have a loan in place to permanently finance the $15.5 million project. The new facility is already under construction and on track to be completed by December.

Christine Crowell of the USDA put minds at ease Monday. She said the county will receive a 40-year, low-interest loan to finance the project.

Apparently the USDA obligated $15,500,000 to the county in December. The loan still has not officially closed, but Crowell said the funding will be in place prior to the Sept. 10 deadline. County officials simply need to provide a legal description of the project and closing instructions in order for the USDA to move forward with closing the loan, which likely will occur at the beginning of July. The $15.5 million loan will be financed at a 2.375 percent fixed rate for 40 years.

“We are just working to figure out the mechanics of our closing. There should be no need for you to roll over the note because those funds have already been obligated to the county,” Crowell told the commissioners Monday by phone. “The project is approximately 40 percent complete, with an estimated completion date of December 27, 2017. The inspector is very pleased with how the project is going.”

We imagine that relieved many of Neuhart’s concerns. As chief fiscal officer she must account for millions of dollars received by the county and issue payments for all county obligations. It must have been alarming to think she might have to pay a $15 million loan by Sept. 10. We applaud officials for ensuring financing for the project is in place.

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