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Commissioners' bid for money won't affect taxpayers

December 16, 1998|By SCOTT BUTKI

Taxpayers should not see any effect from the Washington County Commissioners' request for state permission to borrow more money, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said Tuesday.

The commissioners voted 5-0 to ask the state legislature to increase the county's line of credit from $4 million to $5 million annually. Raising the borrowing limit would provide the county with enough operating cash to last a few weeks should an emergency occur, Shoop said.

The county pays about 4.5 percent interest for its line of credit, Shoop said.

The commissioners also voted unanimously for permission to increase the amount the county can borrow in general obligation bonds over a four-year period from $40 million to $50 million.

General obligation bonds are used to partially fund the county's capital improvement program.

The most money the county has ever borrowed in the bonds over a four-year period is about $35 million, county officials said.

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Since the county is increasingly getting closer to the $40 million amount, though, the commissioners said they had no objection to increasing the amount.

It makes sense to do so because as the county grows the cost of capital improvements also rises, Shoop said.

"I personally have no problem padding it a bit," said Commissioner John L. Schnebly. "It is like a credit card. I don't want to reach the maximum."

The amount can always be reduced to $45 million later if $50 million is too high, said Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger. He would prefer, though, to ask the legislature for this change only once, he said.

The last board of County Commissioners put in place a debt reduction plan limiting the amount of bonds issued to $6.5 million.

The county pays an 8 percent to 9 percent interest rate for past bonds, Shoop said.

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