Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
Instead of paying down the $1.8 million loan ($1.3 million was still due) on the Parker Meadows Recreation park over a 10-year period with a 2.2 percent interest rate, Macon County Commission Chair Kevin Corbin proposed paying off the loan in one lump sum.
“We have increases month after month in our sales tax collections since Parker Meadows was opened for tournaments, and with the increase in revenue, I would like to pay off the loan on the project now,” said Corbin. “We are up nearly $300,000 in sales tax revenue over last year, and I think a lot of that is directly attributed to Parker Meadows.”
In the first month, two tournaments were held at the new recreation park, and sales taxes collected for Macon County increased by 5.5 percent. The trend continued to be realized each month as the tournament schedule filled up, something Corbin believes is only going to continue to get better.
“I think this year we will see more tournaments than last year,” said Corbin. “These people are staying in our hotels and eating in our restaurants. With the additional revenue, and the conservative budgeting on behalf of this board, paying off the loan now rather than paying the interest over 10 years just makes sense.”
The largest increase in sales tax revenues since the opening of Parker Meadows was seen in March, which experienced a 34.79 percent increase.
“Generally March is a slow month in terms of sales tax for the county,” said Corbin. “This year, we saw an increase of $176,182 in sales tax receipts for the county which is huge for us. From October 2015 until June 2016, the county has seen an average sales tax increase of 4.72 percent each month.”
Macon County Manager Derek Roland noted that the more than $200,000 in his annual budget allocated for debt payment on Parker Meadows would then be freed up and give him more flexibility in planning.
“Knowing I have that money to work with gives me security when planning my budget,” said Roland. “I support paying off the loan and believe that it is the right thing to do based on the trend of additional revenues we have seen.”
To pay off the loan, which is held by Entegra Bank, without a pre-payment penalty, the board has to give a 30 day notice of early payment. Then, the county will write the check for $1.3 million to close out the loan.