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Avery Commissioners Approve High School Project Agreement at June 17th Meeting

By Tim Gardner

     The Avery County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution concerning financing the high school construction and renovations project during their bi-monthly meeting on June 17.

     Commissioners– Blake Vance (Vice-Chairman); Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr.; Tim Phillips; and Dennis Aldridge were present. Other top county officials attending included: Finance Officer Tim Greene; Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Board Cindy Turbyfill; and County Attorney Michaelle Poore. Commission chairperson Martha Hicks was absent from the meeting due to recovering from back surgery and County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. was absent due to being on vacation.

     With Hicks absent, Vance served as the meeting’s moderator.

     By a 4-0 vote, the Commissioners adopted a resolution as required by the North Carolina Local Government Commission (LGC), which is responsible for monitoring and ensuring the fiscal health of local entities and whose approval is mandated for certain types of financial agreements, including many involving capital assets.

     The resolution authorizes the execution and delivery of an installment financing agreement, a Deed of Trust, an Escrow Agreement, a third party custodian agreement, an amended and restated lease agreement and a construction agreement with the Avery County Board of Education and related documents in connection with installment financing for school improvements.

     The Board of Education, the governing board of the Avery County local school administrative unit, determined that a need exists for renovating and modernizing Avery High School, including demolition of a portion of the school and new construction, and requested that the County provide capital funding for the project.

     The Board of Commissioners determined that the most efficient manner of financing the project was for the County to enter into an Installment Financing Agreement in a principal amount not to exceed $11,000,000 with Sterling National Bank pursuant to Section 160A-20 of the General Statutes of North Carolina. According to the Agreement, the Bank will advance monies to the County in an amount sufficient to pay, together with other available funds, the costs of the project, and the County will repay the advancement by making semi-annual installment payments, with interest, for the term of the loan, which is 15 years.

     The loan proceeds will be held pursuant to an Escrow Agreement among the County, the Bank and an escrow agent acceptable to the County. In order to secure the performance of the County’s obligations under the agreement, the County will execute and deliver a Deed of Trust, granting a lien on the site of the project and all improvements and fixtures located and to be located there (on the “Mortgaged Property”). And in order to facilitate the renovation of the project, the County will enter into a construction agreement with the Board of Education providing for the supervision of construction of the project by the Board of Education.

     The Mortgaged Property will be leased back to the Board of Education pursuant to an Amended and Restated Lease Agreement between the County and the Board of Education, which Amended and Restated Lease Agreement will be subordinate to the lien created by the Deed of Trust.

     Additional terms of the resolution state that no deficiency judgment may be rendered against the County in any action for breach of any contractual obligation under the agreement or the Deed of Trust, and the taxing power of the County is not and may not be pledged directly or indirectly to secure any moneys due under the Agreement or the Deed of Trust.

     Also, under terms of the resolution, the Chairperson, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, County Manager, Finance Director, County Attorney and the Clerk to the Board, and any other officers, agents and employees of the County, are authorized and directed to execute and deliver closing certificates, federal tax certificates, opinions and other items of evidence as shall be deemed necessary to consummate the transactions regarding this agreement including any necessary financing statements relating to fixtures located on the mortgaged property and any documents necessary for the conveyance of the site of the project to the County.

     In other business, the Commissioners made the following service board appointments: Susan Sirrila, Kate Gavenus and Eric Berg to the Avery County Economic Development Advisory Committee; Randall Joe Buchanan to the Avery County Planning Board; and Jennie Harpold to the Mayland Community College Board of Trustees.

     The next County Commissioners meeting (regular monthly) will be held on Monday, July 1. It will commence at 3:30 p.m.in their Board Room in the County’s Administration Building, located at 175 Linville Street in Newland.