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Grant Co. Commissioners Court approves sale of bonds for jail project

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | July 14, 2022 4:52 PM

EPHRATA — Grant County Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday authorizing the issue of up to $90 million in limited tax general obligation bonds to pay for law and justice projects, including a new Grant County Jail.

The vote was unanimous.

Grant County voters approved a three-tenths of 1% increase in county sales tax designated for law and justice projects, including the construction of a new jail, in 2019. In a separate interview, Grant County Central Services Director Tom Gaines said county officials started collecting the money in June 2020.

As of June 30, the fund is holding about $8.73 million, Gaines said. So far about $1.13 million has been spent on the jail project.

The bonds have a 35-year payback provision. Jim Nelson of D.A. Davidson, the firm handling the sale, said during the commission’s discussion that the first payment would be $3 million, with $5 million payments every year thereafter.

Nelson said that while the bonds can be issued for a maximum of $90 million, it’s more likely that the maximum issuance would be for $88 million. The county is not required to sell bonds up to the maximum, he said. County officials can opt to sell fewer bonds, which would generate less money but also result in less interest paid by taxpayers.

Nelson said Grant County Treasurer Darryl Pheasant and the bankers will be monitoring market conditions and may wait to sell the bonds, depending on those conditions. Scott McJannet of K&L Gates, the county’s bond counsel, said the resolution includes a provision to come back to the commissioners if the bonds are not sold within six months.

Commissioners will have the opportunity to review the issuance, and refinance the bonds if that’s a favorable option, in 10 years, McJannet said.

The bonds won’t be issued until there’s a review of the proposal by bond rating agencies, a meeting set for July 25. Because all three commissioners will be at the meeting, the public will be able to listen.

Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

Bond basics

Commissioners vote to authorize the issuance of up to $90 million in limited tax general obligation bonds for law and justice projects, including a new Grant County Jail.

County voters approved a three-tenths of 1% increase in Grant County sales tax designated for law and justice projects.

County officials started collecting the tax in June 2020.

As of June 30 the county has about $8.73 million in the fund.

About $1.13 million has been spent as of June 30.

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