Costs of selling bonds and using TIF increasing for county

The Greene County supervisors approved hiring a third outside entity to assist with the process of paying for the Iowa Central Career Academy that will be built adjacent to the new Greene County High School.

The board on Monday approved an agreement with D.A. Davidson to serve as a municipal advisor during the process of selling the general obligation bonds needed to fund the $5 million project. Nate Summers of D.A. Davidson explained that he will have a “fiduciary duty” – he is obligated to look after the best interests of the county during the transaction.

The county will pay $12,500 for his services.

In March the supervisors engaged Northland Securities to serve as underwriter/finance advisor for the county’s tax increment financing plan. Jeff Heil of Northland told the supervisors then that his job as finance advisor would be to assure that the structure of payments on the debt matches the funds available to pay it. In this case, bond payments will come from the increased property taxes paid on the first 41 MidAmerican Energy wind turbines.

As an underwriter, it will be his job to market the bond offering to potential investors. Northland Securities will have an “arm’s-length” relationship with the county – Northland owes no special obligation to the county.

An underwriter typically charges 1 to 2 percent of the total bond issue. For a $5 million bond issue, that’s $50,000 to $100,000.

In February the supervisors hired the Ahlers & Cooney law firm to assist in developing the urban renewal plan needed before tax increment financing can be put in place.

The county is paying Ahlers & Cooney an hourly rate expected to total $10,000 – $15,000.

County staff is doing some of the work Ahlers & Cooney would do for other clients. TIF can only be used for projects within an urban renewal area, so staff is working through legal descriptions and maps to develop an area that includes the 41 wind turbines and the career academy. At the same time, farmland can’t be in an urban renewal area. The proposed area will include turbine sites and roads, giving it a “spider” look, according to Pam Olerich, who is working on it.

The supervisors will need to hold a public hearing on an urban renewal plan that names objectives and specific projects to undertake within that area. After the public hearing, the supervisors could approve the plan and adopt an ordinance designating a tax increment area.

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