The Ohio County Commission on Tuesday agreed to issue up to $6 million in tax-exempt bonds on behalf of The Linsly School, which is seeking to raise a total of $10 million by 2014 for facility upgrades and other improvements.
Planned projects include a three-story addition to Banes Hall, Linsly's main academic building, which will include four classrooms and a high-tech presentation room with seating for at least 80, additional handicap-accessible restrooms and a new fire alarm system; technology upgrades to all student-used buildings and iPads for all teachers; renovations to the school's gymnasium, including a new roof and floor and new bleachers; and artificial turf for the practice field.
County Administrator Greg Stewart said there is no public funding involved, as the commission's role is merely to act as a pass-through agency by loaning proceeds from the bond sale to Linsly, which is a private school.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart, left, and County Solicitor Donald Tennant listen to comments during Tuesday’s Ohio County Commission meeting.
"The resolution states in bold print the county has no liability for any debts that would be incurred. All the liability is on Linsly," said James Companion, a Wheeling lawyer who prepared the school's request.
State and local governments may issue such bonds on behalf of certain private businesses, including nonprofit organizations such as Linsly.
These bonds are attractive to prospective buyers because interest income generated from them is not subject to state and local taxes.
Stewart said the Internal Revenue Service sets an annual cap of $10 million per county on the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, noting Tuesday's vote put Ohio County's total tax-exempt obligations for 2012 between $7 million and $7.5 million.
Such bonds may be sold either on the open market or through a private sale. In this case, Companion said Huntington Bank already has agreed to purchase all of the bonds issued on Linsly's behalf.
The commission approved a similar request in 2000 for a bond issue of $1.75 million, Companion noted.
In other business, commissioners unanimously approved spending $12,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue for the construction of a memorial at Bethlehem Community Park to veterans of the Gulf War and the War on Terror.
Commissioner Randy Wharton made the request following discussions with Bethlehem Mayor Garrett "Rhett" Daniel about plans for the park.
"It's just a real nice community park and it's used quite often as a real centerpiece and a focal point in the entire community. ... I thought this was a great project," Wharton said.
Commissioners also approved spending $56,000 with the Wheeling accounting firm Bodkin, Wilson and Kozicki for the county's annual audit. Stewart said five bids were received and graded based on criteria established by the state.
Stewart also reminded residents that Oct. 16 is the last to day to register to vote in order to be eligible to cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 general election.
A public test of early voting equipment will be conducted in the commission's office at the City-County Building on Oct. 19.
Sheriff Pat Butler said the X-ray machine in the lobby of the City-County Building will remain open late on Halloween to allow parents to have candy their children may collect examined for tampering. He said more details would be released later.
The commission's next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 9.