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Commission takes one more step toward new county office

Sun Advocate associate editor

It is okay with the Carbon County Commission if the Carbon County Municipal Building Authority issues up to $13 million in bonds to finance construction of the proposed new county office building.

That is because the county commissioners are also the board of the building authority. In back-to-back sessions last Wednesday, the same three officials convened first as the MBA to the set the upper limit on the bonds. They then adjourned and immediately reconvened as the county commission to approve the MBA's decision.

As bond attorney Eric Johnson explained, the reason for the legal footwork is that the building authority is technically a non-profit corporation that exists only to borrow money and build public projects. The county will lease the new building from the MBA, and the MBA will use those lease payments to pay off the bonds over the next 30 years.

It is unlikely that the bonds will total the full $13 million authorized. The decision of the Permanent Community Impact Board was for $5.7 million in zero interest loan and another $5.7 million at 2.5 percent. There is a $6 million outright grant in construction funding.

Johnson told commissioners that the funding package is probably the best deal available. If the county had to go out on the open market for bonds, it would wind up paying between 3.5 and 4 percent on the full cost of the project, which would come close to doubling the total payback required.

The building authority will hold a legally-required public hearing on Feb. 20 at 4:30 p.m. It will be conducted in the commission chambers.

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