For the past year, in addition to recruiting industries to the area, a main focus of the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority has been debt reduction. The TUIDA board approached the county commissioners last summer to request extra funding primarily for the purpose of reducing the debt owed on the Spec Building and a separate account was set up for one percent of the collected property taxes to go towards this effort. Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston told the TUIDA at their May meeting that paying off the first lean on the Spec Building may soon become a reality.
Blackston stated he will have to get the exact numbers from Tax Assessor Berry Cook, but he believes the county has had about an 87 percent collection rate on taxes.
“We established out budget with intentions of using this money to pay off the Spec Building, which will therefore alleviate the payments we are making every month through the county budget,” said Blackston. “We have made five payments already (for 2014)… I think we will probably have enough collection to go on and pay that note off.”
The TUIDA had agreed earlier this year to cover the difference if the amount collected on one percent of the taxes was not enough to fully pay off the loan by taking money out of the bond issue account. TUIDA Chairman Billy Johnston stated he felt paying off the building would be a good thing and it will aid the authority if a prospect is interested in the Spec Building.
Board member Frank King stated he feels that paying off the building would be a win for everyone in the community.
“This is a step the county took, that some in the community probably did not understand, but it is terrifically beneficial for the IDA. And in this case it is beneficial for tax payers because it gets debt off of the county role being paid with property tax and it saves interest. I think this is something that is a win for us, win for county and win for tax payers.”
The TUIDA is hoping to have the note paid off within the next few weeks. Once this main lien is paid, there is still a One Georgia loan left on the building which should be paid off by next year. The Spec Building is a 78,300 square foot building shell which can be customized to an industry looking to locate in Upson County. It is situated on 13 acres site on Highway 36 and Delray Road.
In other business, the board approved a two –year extension on the grant agreement the TUIDA has with E-7 Technologies. The original agreement between the TUIDA and E-7 Technologies began in 2005 and was for a forgivable grant of $60,000 in exchange for 50 full time employees. TUIDA Attorney Joel Bentley told the board the company has continued to operate even while facing hardships due to the economic condition and have recently indicated they have some prospects about job expansion which they believe will allow them to meet the employment goals in the next two years. He suggested the board extend the agreement on a good faith basis to continue to operate and expand. The board approved the extension unanimously.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1