Hawkins Commission expects debt refinancing to save $2.6 million

Jeff Bobo • Apr 23, 2019 at 10:00 PM

ROGERSVILLE — By taking advantage of lower interest rates, the Hawkins County Commission expects to save about $2.6 million over the next 19 years by refinancing some of its long-term debt.

On Monday, the commission voted unanimously in favor of issuing bonds not to exceed $22.8 million, which would cover debt dating back to 2008, which is currently under a 3.22 percent interest rate.

The new rate is projected at 3 percent, and it will be locked in within the next 30 days.

Most of that debt stems from the 2009 Phase 3 county schools building construction and renovation project, although it also encompasses debt for school buses; road and/or bridge construction; the Justice Center and Courthouse renovations; and equipment for the Solid Waste Department.

The new bond will be paid off in 2038.

EMS Exploratory Committee

The commission also voted unanimously in favor of appointing an EMS Exploratory Committee comprised of medical and rescue professionals which will make a recommendation regarding the county ambulance franchise.

Hawkins County EMS’ two-year franchise expires on June 30, and both HCEMS and Lifeguard EMS have applied for the next two-year franchise.

The EMS Exploratory Committee members approved include: Dr. Blaine Jones, Dr. Richard Machalik, Stacy Mahan, Ralph Darnell, Jackie Charles, Tim Strange, Bill Killen, Patrick Shipwash and Ed Alvis.

The committee is expected to provide the commission with a recommendation within 180 days. Next month, the commission will be asked to extend the HCEMS franchise by 90 days to allow the committee time to complete its study.

Commission approved appointments

The commission voted 20-0 with one abstention to appoint Hawkins County Gas general manager Patrick Lund to the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board. Lund replaces Tony Birchfield, who resigned due to his business at the Phipps Bend Industrial park needing the IDB’s assistance with a proposed expansion. Lund’s term expires Dec. 31, 2024.

The commission also voted 21-0 to appoint two members to the Hawkins County Planning Commission including Lynn Norris to represent District 4 and Bill Phillips to represent District 5. Those two appointments expire Nov. 30, 2021.

Family insurance for deceased first responders

The commission voted 21-0 in favor of a resolution that would continue health insurance benefits two years for the families of county employee “first responders” who are killed in the line of duty.

Presently the only county employee first responders are members of the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and EMA Director Gary Murrell.

The resolution states, “The insurance in effect at the time of the first responder’s death shall be continued for up to 24 months through COBRA and paid for fully by the county, and if necessary, for an additional 12 months with the surviving spouse and children being responsible for the cost. Notification will be given to the state commissioner of finance and administration that such coverage has been put in place and state reimbursement for 70 percent of such coverage will be requested.”

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