County looking for loan payment funds

ANDERSON — Sometime between now and June 1, the Madison County Council will have to determine how to make the first payment on the $3.5 million loan to remediate asbestos and remodel the Madison County Government Center.

The first installment in the amount of $207,000 is coming due for payment on June 1, and the council has not appropriated the funds.

When the Madison County Council agreed to the $3.5 million loan for the courthouse, the funding was to be derived from the county’s share of the local option income tax.

At one point during the Tuesday council meeting, it was proposed that the county could use the $275,000 generated by the tax certificate sale to make the payment.

Auditor Rick Gardner said any surplus obtained through the sale can’t be used for three years to allow owners of the properties sold to request any surplus from the county.

“There is $65,000 available from the 2014 tax sale,” Gardner said.

Councilman Clayton Whitson said Friday the county has available by June 1 a total of $172,000 from previous tax sales that could be applied to the loan payment.

“The rest would have to come from the general fund or group insurance account,” he said. “We’re looking at a short-term (fiscal) crunch before the spring tax settlement.”

Whitson said another $251,000 will be available in October.

Council President Anthony Emery said the council will have to determine at the May meeting where to obtain the funds for the loan payment.

“A concern is that we will be short at the end of the year,” he said.

Councilman Mike Gaskill said finding the funds for the $207,000 payment has to be determined.

“This is going to require some hard decisions,” he said.

County officials are concerned about transferring money from the county’s general fund to make the payment because finances are expected to be tight until the spring tax payment is received at the end of June.

“We can take an advance on the spring tax settlement,” Gardner said. “If the council doesn’t make an appropriation that’s the way I would do it.”

Gardner told council members the county has a $3.6 million surplus in the operating balance currently and the concern is making the approximately $700,000 payroll that is to be paid on June 1.

“Unless the council reduces spending, we’re facing a mid-year pinch,” he said. “We should be back on track by the end of the year to have a $9 million operating balance.”

Gardner said because the $3.5 million loan was approved after the 2018 budget was adopted the $207,000 was spending county officials had not planned for.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.