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Macon to pay off Parker Meadows loan

Macon to pay off Parker Meadows loan

With an unexpected increase in sales tax revenue, Macon County commissioners voted in favor of paying off a $5 million loan early for the Parker Meadows Sports Complex project.

At the advisement of Commission Chairman Kevin Corbin, the county will go ahead and pay off the $1.35 million remaining on the loan, which will save the county about $200,000 in interest. 

County Manager Derek Roland only budgeted a 1 percent sales tax increase into the 2016-17 county budget, but Corbin said the county has seen a 6 percent increase in sales tax that could be attributed to the number of people visiting the county for sports tournaments held at Parker Meadows. 

“Parker Meadows is a big contributor to that increase — half a million dollars a year or maybe more,” Corbin said. “Parker Meadows has essentially paid for itself and paying it off frees up $200,000 in the budget — we can reduce the budget by $200,000 or allocate it to something else that needs to happen.”

The 48-acre sports complex project was several years in the making and cost big bucks to complete. The land alone cost the county $550,000, and the original $3 million estimated construction cost continued to rise as unexpected obstacles kept popping up. 

The project almost didn’t happen with a 3-to-2 vote split vote on the board of commissioners in early 2014. Commissioner Paul Higdon and former commissioner Ron Haven weren’t convinced it was the best time to build, but the payoff has been quicker than expected. The ballpark has only been in operation for a little over a year and has already shown it can support itself.  

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Since the 6 percent sales tax increase wasn’t accounted for in the budget, that additional revenue would go into the county’s fund balance if commissioners didn’t want to pay the loan off early. Corbin said the county already has a very healthy fund balance and didn’t need to add more to it this year. The fund balance as of June 30, 2015, was $17.8 million and that increased to $21 million June 30, 2016. That equates to about 48 percent of the county’s overall budget — well above what the state requires local governments to keep in a fund balance. 

“We’ll still have a higher fund balance than we did a year ago — $2.5 million higher,” Corbin said. “What it amounts to is we’re in very good shape financially.”

Commissioner Jimmy Tate agreed. His motion to pay off the loan early was approved unanimously.

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