Bank official makes recommendations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2005

AHOSKIE – With its capital improvement needs greater than what’s within their pocketbook, Ahoskie officials were advised here Tuesday to explore every available option in making their dreams come true.

During the monthly meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council, Jim Hansen of RBC Centura presented several ideas of how the town can go about addressing its capital improvement needs.

&uot;Ahoskie has its plate full of projects,&uot; said Hansen, RBC Centura’s North Carolina manager for Public and Institutional Banking.

He continued, &uot;It’s my job to help you better understand how you can fund these projects without draining your cash reserves. I’m here to help you make sound financial decisions for the future of this town.&uot;

Addressing such high ticket items as a much-needed expansion to the town’s wastewater treatment plant, one projected to cost in the $13 million range, and an estimated $3 million to construct a new fire/police station, Hansen said the town could go in two directions – the selling of general obligation bonds or applying for grants from USDA Rural Development, from where the balance can be financed at a very reasonable rate.

In addition to the aforementioned $16 million worth of capital improvements, Town Council has devised and wants to implement a new plan for a recreational complex on the Hurricane Floyd buyout property as well as addressing the need to find a larger home for the town’s library.

Hansen advised Council members that the first step in using the general obligation bond method would be to place it before the town citizens in the form of a bond referendum vote.

&uot;In regards to bonds, the citizens here have a say of how they want their tax money spent,&uot; Hansen noted.

The other option is to apply for USDA grant funding, a resource that Hansen highly recommended. He said that avenue would save the town $15,000-to-$20,000 in upfront money they would spend by choosing general obligation bonds funding.

&uot;Plus the USDA offers a variety of ways to finance the balance,&uot; he said. &uot;What I would recommend is to apply for all the grant money you can. Put a plan in place in the order of what project is top priority, what’s second, etc. You also need to consider what projects will bring you the most grant money.&uot;

Mayor Pro Tem O.S. &uot;Buck&uot; Suiter Jr., filling in for Mayor Linda Blackburn who is on jury duty this week, thanked Hansen for his informative presentation and advised him that the town would develop a list of strategies to discuss with him at a later date.