Uintah County Commission Delays Resolution To Pay Off Jail GO Bonds
By Kristin Forbis, Aug 3, 2022
The Uintah County Commission considered a Resolution on Monday that would authorize using cash reserves to pay off the General Obligation Bonds for the Public Safety Complex as was announced in June. A representative from Zions Public Finance made a brief presentation explaining that the the bonds cannot actually be paid off until 2026 but through the process of defeasance, the County can set up an escrow account to make the payments until it can be fully paid off in 2026. This process does legally allow the County to remove the debt from their books but once done it is irrevocable and that 26 million dollars is not available to the County for any reason. The push to pay off the Bonds is tied to a plan to create revenue by housing federal inmates in the Uintah County Jail though how much potential revenue was unknown. Uintah County Treasurer Wendi Long addressed the Commissioners, pleading with them to reconsider because she said taking that much from the County’s cash reserves puts the County in a very vulnerable position, especially with imminent Centrally Assessed appeals and lawsuit judgements to pay using cash reserves. She also emphasized that by her calculations this move will cost the County $2 million dollars between setting up the defeasance and the loss of 4 years of potential interest the funds could accrue. Clerk/Auditor Mike Wilkins also addressed the Commission and said that during a May meeting, even the representatives from Zions Public Finance said this isn’t the time to do this with the rising costs of inflation, the U.S. very likely heading into a recession, and the way interest rates are going. “It’s good to pay off debt but this is not the time to do it,” emphasized Wilkins. “You are financially crippling the next Commission, forcing them to have to go through an immediate tax increase…Please do not do this,” he concluded. Commissioner Stringer made a motion to approve the Resolution. Commissioner Horrocks, who will be the only remaining Commissioner next year, said he would like to postpone the Resolution in order to run the numbers more closely and the motion failed due to not having a 2nd.