Caldwell County awards bid for middle school financing

Jan. 14, 2014 @ 08:39 AM

As a decision was being made across town on what to name it, the new middle school in Lenoir inched closer to completion Monday night as the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a bid for its $14.5 million financing.

The 15-year deal with First Citizens Bank will have a fixed interest rate of 2.81 percent for the first 10 years, then a variable rate for the final five years that can't go lower than 3.25 percent or higher than 9 percent. Paying off the loan early will carry a 1 percent pre-payment penalty.

"I would have preferred a fixed rate all the way," said Tony Helton, Caldwell County's finance officer. "But I feel it's a good quote nonetheless."

Payments of about $1 million a year will be made from sales tax revenue, Helton said.

However, First Citizens' bid called for the financing deal to become official Feb. 14, but the county needs approval first by the N.C. Local Government Commission, but it's too late to get on the commission's February agenda, so the county commissioners approved seeking an extension.

Helton said he was unsure whether First Citizens, the only bank to respond to the county's request for bids, would agree to the extension.

The board also approved a resolution to establish a salary for Caldwell County sheriff. If incumbent sheriff Alan Jones is re-elected, his current pay of $74,892.84 a year shall not be reduced. If Jones is not re-elected, there are two options: One would be for his successor to start with a pay level of $58,061 a year, with a raise after six months to $61,286, and another raise after another six months to $64,512, which would be 11 percent higher than it started. The second option would be for the commissioners for the pay to be set within the pay range of $58,061 to $96,769, determined by education and qualifications, at the discretion of the board of commissioners.

The board will choose which option to take, if needed, at its second regular meeting of November, which will be after the election.