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AVRC financing package approved

JACKSON – The financing vehicle is in place.

Monday afternoon the Northampton County Commissioners approved the source from which the county will borrow funds to purchase a site on which to place the Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC).

County Manager Wayne Jenkins presented the Board with four alternatives for financing the prospective $1.8 million project. Included were proposals from RBC Centura, Southern Bank, Wachovia Bank and Fifth Third Bank.

Jenkins said after a careful examination of the numbers, Southern Bank was offering the best proposal for Northampton County.

Commission Vice Chairman Robert V. Carter (D-4th) said he wanted his fellow board members to take notice that the fees and charges from Southern Bank’s proposal were &uot;roughly 50 percent less&uot; than the others.

Commissioner James C. Boone (D-3rd) asked if the county would purchase the land or if the loan would be given to the AVRC.

&uot;Northampton County will purchase the property,&uot; Jenkins said, adding the property would then be transferred to the AVRC who would pay back the $1.8 million to the county.

&uot;What is the timeline for repayment; your best guesstimation,&uot; Carter asked.

Jenkins said he expected the repayment to come &uot;in far less than&uot; the 10 years of the loan.

Boone asked what would happen if the AVRC went bankrupt in two years and was told by Jenkins that County Attorney Charles Vaughan would make sure the county was covered.

Boone asked Vaughan to tell the Board what kind of coverage they would have in such an event and Vaughan said he didn’t know, deferring to Economic Development Director Gary Brown.

&uot;I want to hear the legal advice,&uot; Boone said.

&uot;I can’t answer that because I don’t know,&uot; Vaughan said. &uot;I don’t know what the proposal is because we haven’t gotten that far.&uot;

Commission Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd) asked if Jenkins request the financing vehicle be approved &uot;upon legal advice&uot; meant that Vaughan would look at it after the approval and Jenkins said it did.

Brown then came forward and said what the Board was considering was simply the vehicle the county would use to finance the property. He added the property would remain in the possession of Northampton County until the debt was satisfied.

&uot;In the interim, the AVRC will pay taxes on the property improvements,&uot; Brown said.

Carter made the motion to proceed with the financing offer from Southern Bank after it had been reviewed by Vaughan and Boone offered a second. The motion passed 4-0 with Commissioner Fannie P. Greene (D-5th) not present.