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County Refunding Bonds At Higher Rate Than Anticipated, But Still Expected To Save $522,086

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Hopkins County will be saving $522,086 by refunding bonds which financed the construction of the county jail more than 6 years ago, County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook reported during the regular Commissioners Court meeting Monday. Two plats and a budget amendment for CARES Act funding the county received due to COVID-19 were also on the June 14 agenda.

Bond Refunding

Hopkins County Law Enforcement Center (jail), 298 Rosemont St., Sulphur Springs, Texas

Hopkins County Commissioners Court earlier this year authorized issuance of general obligation refunding bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates to advance refund the two bonds taken out to build the new jail facility, provided rates continue to be favorable for doing so. The refunding of the bond projected based on February’s interest rates to save between $70,000-$80,000.

Part of the refunding process was having county finances evaluated by outside firm. At the May 24 Commissioners Court meeting, Aulsbrook and County Judge Robert Newsom reported the county received an  A+ financial rating.

“I just wanted to note the bond rating is A-plus Staple, and in their comments, they said adequate management, adequate budgetary performance, very strong budgetary flexibility, adequate debt, strong institutional framework score. That’s a summary. It’s lots of pages,” Aulsbrook said. “But, We look good.”

Monday, Aulsbrook reported that the bonds have already been refunded. However, the interest rate the bonds were refunded at was higher than the historic lows reported in February. Even so, Hopkins County will save $522,086 over the life of the bonds, which continues through April 15, 2035.

“The financial advisors felt that was enough of a savings to move forward with the sale of the bonds. It equals out to about $37,291 yearly, and it’s done. That’s complete. I just wanted to make a record of it. You had already passed it and approved it. That’s what your saving is going to be $37,291 yearly on the debt” Aulsbrook reported.

“Congratulations to Shannah and all those working in finance and the Commissioners Court as well,” Newsom said. “A plus is amazing and it’s great to save over $500,000 for the refinance on what we call the new jail bond – but it’s six years old.”

“Nice job,” resident Mac Pitts called from the benches where he sat observing the meeting Monday.

“Thank you Shannah for keeping our nose to the grindstone,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker commented.

“The maturity of those bonds will be April 15, 2035, is that right?” Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Barley asked.

Budget Amendment

Aulsbrook presented to the Commissioner Court a request to amend the budget by $303,659.10. She explained that the county applied for CARES Act funding to cover salaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The county received a reimbursement of all salaries that the county had already budgeted. A budget amendment was needed to move the funds to the county’s road and bridge fund, with $75,914.78 to be allocated to each of the four precincts.

“That should help pay for the rising cost of oil,” Barker noted.

Barker made a motion, which was seconded by Bartley, to approve the budget amendment. The motion receive unanimous approval of the court.

Plats

Caney Creek Addition plat approved by Commissioners in March

Hopkins County Commissioners Court also approved a revised plat for Caney Creek Addition and a final plat of Anna Lakes Estates.

The Commissioners Court gave approval to a final plat for the Caney Creek subdivision at a March meeting.

“FEC had him go back and add easements for each of the lots,” County Clerk Tracy Smith said of the revised plat request for Shawn Massey for Caney Creek Addition. “When FEC got out there, they wanted him to go ahead and add an easement on each lot. So he had to revise the plat that he filed.”

When asked by Newsom, Smith confirmed the revision follows the rules established for subdivisions within Hopkins County.

Barker said he had no problem with the request for the revision to the plat, which is located on FM 1567 near a cell phone tower in Precinct 1, and made the motion, which was seconded by Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Anglin, to approve the revised plat of Caney Creek Addition as presented. The motion received the unanimous approval of the Commissioners Court at the June 14 meeting.

Anna Lakes Subdivision plat approved by Commissioners in May

As presented and approved by the Court in march, the 31.49 acre Caney Creek Addition will include four tracts around a cell phone tower, and 11 additional tracts around those four. The area already has fiber optics lines which will allow for high speed internet. Fifteen homes with estimated values of $150,000 to $200,000 are planned to be constructed. A road would be accessed from FM 1567 in Arbala, then loop in a circle through the Caney Creek subdivision and back out.

Smith then explained that the second plat submitted for consideration of the Commissioners Court Monday was simply a final plat for the Anna Lakes Estates. Hopkins County Commissioners Court, at the recommendation of Bartley, on May 10 approved the preliminary plat for the housing development planned for Precinct 3. Smith said the developer made changes on the preliminary plat, so there are no changes submitted for the final plat.

The 19.61-acre property fronts the roadway on three sides, north of FM 900 on one side, and County Road CR 3541 on two sides as well. Anna Lakes Estates is about 1 1/2 mile north of US Highway 67. The property has eight lots to be developed. Lots range from 1.6 acres to 3.19 acres. The property belongs to Leon and Anna Carpenter, and Shannon Carpenter,

Bartley offered his approval of the final plat as submitted and made the motion, seconded by Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price, for the court to approve the final plat for Anna Lakes Estates. The motion also received the unanimous approval of the Commissioners Court.

Other Items

Farmers Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Hopkins County Commissioners Court at the 9 a.m. session Monday, June 14, 2021, approved the consent agenda, which include minutes from the regular May 24 meeting, as well as the May 24 and June 7 work sessions; and requests from Farmers Electric Cooperative Inc. to construct electrical power distribution facility across County Road 233, just wet of FM 269 in Precinct 2, and across County Road 4752, west of County Road 4759 in Precinct 4. Anglin and Price both indicated they had looked at the location for which the requests were made and recommended approval for their precincts.

The Commissioners Court also agreed to payment of bills, revenues and expenses, payroll and financial statements as presented.

All other items on the agenda were approved Newsom made a motion to enter into an executive session for a personnel matter at 9:10 a.m., with Kelly Kaslon with the County Human Resources/Administration department, Aulsbrook, the Commissioners and Treasurer Danny Davis requested adjourn to their meeting room on the third floor of Hopkins County Courthouse for the closed session. Bartley seconded the motion, which was approved by the rest of the court.

The Commissioners returned to the Commissioners Courtroom at approximately 9:45 a.m. June 14. Price made the motion which was seconded by Bartley, and approved by the rest of the court to reconvene the meeting in open session. Newsom announced that there was nothing to report and no actual personnel changes to be made as a result of the executive session discussion. Bartley made a motion which Price seconded, to adjourn the regular Commissioners Court meeting.

The Commissioners Court then headed back up to the third floor of the courthouse for a work session, which was to include discussion on culvert placements in Hopkins County and the Texas Association Of Counties Health And Employee Benefits Pool (TAC HEBP) Plan For 2020 for Hopkins County. The Commissioners were also slated to meet with the fire chief, sheriff and civic center manager to discuss operations, review of revenue and expenditures, proposed improvements and repairs at each’s facilities during the work session.

Hopkins County Commissioners Court
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Author: Faith Huffman

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