Houston & Peach

Houston pays off industrial tract loan with sales tax

WARNER ROBINS -- Houston County commissioners seem happy at the prospect of writing a $5.8 million check.

The board Tuesday voted unanimously to pay off a loan early to save on interest. The loan was from State Bank & Trust for the purchase of a 667-acre tract behind the county’s long-vacant speculative building in Perry. The land was purchased by the Houston County Development Authority in hopes of luring industry.

The authority bought the land in 2008 for $14.7 million and originally made payments to the owner before the county took out the bank loan to pay off the debt. The bank loan was supposed to be paid in full by the end of next year using revenue from the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax.

By paying the loan early, Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said, the county is saving $62,000 in interest payments.

“SPLOST proceeds are not at the level as we had anticipated (they) would be, so everywhere we can save a dollar, or in this particular case $62,000, we need to try to take advantage of it,” he said.

The bank gave the county a statement that the payoff would be $5,767,697 if paid by Wednesday.

At the end of the meeting one resident congratulated the commission on making the move, but Stalnaker said any praise belongs elsewhere.

“The thanks goes not to the board of commissioners or the Development Authority, but the citizens of this county who are really paying the bills and approved that SPLOST to be able to pay that off,” he said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.