Decide on Loan Request Soon
It ought to be a no-brainer for U.S. Department of Agriculture officials to grant Monroe County a $15 million loan to help cover the cost of a new jail. Let us hope President Donald Trump’s impatience with the bureaucratic swamp that is Washington encourages USDA officials to handle the county’s request reasonably and quickly.
County commissioners borrowed $15 million for the jail in a short-term deal that expires Sept. 10. As their financial adviser told them last week, the note they signed requires they pay back a total of $15,228,000 on that date.
Various options in dealing with that are available. One of them is “rolling over” the short term loan, which has a 1.5 percent interest rate.
Obtaining a long-term loan from the USDA would be preferable to that, of course.
Commissioners are wisely keeping their options open. As Commissioner Carl Davis put it, “We have to be as flexible as we possibly can.”
Clearly, federal officials ought to be eager to help the county, if for no other reason than helping battle the drug abuse epidemic in Ohio. The Buckeye State has been among the hardest hit by the opioid crisis — and that is one reason some local officials need money to expand jails or build new ones.
One way or another, however, USDA officials ought to give Monroe County an answer quickly. If the loan request is denied, commissioners will need time to make other arrangements.
Unfortunately, getting an answer on just about anything from the federal government can take lots of time. As financial adviser Joseph Robertson IV told commissioners, “I’ve never seen the USDA come through exactly when they say they will.”
This summer would be a good time for USDA loan officials to change that pattern.