Gates County to apply for QSCB funds

Published 9:33 am Tuesday, July 5, 2016

GATESVILLE – The Gates County Board of Commissioners have agreed to move forward with applying for a Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) worth $6 million.

That possible funding source was brought to the Commissioner’s attention earlier last month during a joint meeting with the Gates County Board of Education. Dr. Ben Matthews from the NC Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh was at the same meeting and explained QSCB funding.

This federal bond provides no-interest funding for school construction.

The commissioners then speculated about borrowing enough money for a new school if they and the Board of Education decide to go in that direction.

Gates County Financial Service Director Sandy Pittman told the commissioners at their most recent meeting, “We’re in fine shape financially. There will be no problem.”

The commissioners also brought up holding a referendum, but Board Chairwoman Linda Hofler stopped that discussion, reminding her colleagues, “It’s not on this agenda to discuss the referendum.”

Although no official decision has been reached to build a new middle school, the county’s Board of Education has produced a cost estimate of $18 million. If that goes forward, the county would need to acquire $18 million. Voters may have to approve any monies county government seeks to borrow in a referendum, depending on the funding type.

It needs to be noted that no decision has been made to place such a proposal before the voters of Gates County.

In a previous meeting, Matthews said if the Commissioners applied for the $6 million QSCB, “If I stay alive, you’ll get it.”

County officials are looking to the Local Government Commission (LGC) for guidance on whether or not a referendum would be required if the county’s QSCB application is approved and that money is made available. If approved, the county will have up to three years to expend the $6 million.

The county has discussed various funding options for the possible $18 million needed to build a school. If the QSCB funds are received, the amount needed from another funding source would be less. Funding sources include general obligation bonds, which require voter approval, certificates of participation and installment financing, both of which do not require voter approval.

County Manager Natalie Rountree and Pittman will explore different options for the QSCB with the LGC.