NATCHEZ (Source: Lindsey Shelton The Natchez Democrat, Miss. (MCT) — Tax-anticipation loans, financial transactions to pay off debt and a tight budget have put the City of Natchez’s finances in the headlines quite a bit this year, but how deep in debt is the city?
The answer: Approximately $19.5 million, not including interest, according to figures from the Natchez City Clerk’s office.
The City of Natchez’s debt has shrunk from approximately $30 million in the last ten years at a rate of approximately $1 million a year for nearly the past 10 years. The debt is projected to continue decreasing at the same rate for the next eight years, with the city’s debt totaling approximately $11 million in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
The total debt includes the $12 million in bonds issued in 1999 to build and furnish the Natchez Convention Center and the $1.4 million in bonds issued in 1998 for the center’s property.
The debt accounts for the 2006 refinancing of the convention center through an interest-rate swap transaction. City Clerk Donnie Holloway said the city has approximately $10.7 million left to pay on the center’s debt.
The urban renewal bonds for the federal courthouse, which Holloway said will be paid off this fiscal year, are also included in the city’s debt total.
The payment of the courthouse bonds will total with interest $1.5 million, which Holloway said was spread out in $140,000 annual payments over 10 years.
A $3 million bond for a street overlay project issued in 2009, $575,000 Natchez Water Works revenue bond in 2005 and a $650,000 loan from Britton and Koontz Bank make up the rest of the city’s debt.
Holloway said the loan was taken out to fund half of a $1.3 million street overlay project after the city failed to receive a $650,000 appropriation from the Mississippi Development Authority a few years ago.
The city is approximately $15 million away from its state-set debt limit, Holloway said. The debt limit for cities and counties is an amount equal to 15 percent of the assessed value of properties in the city or county.
Revenue bonded debt, such as the bonds used to fund the convention center building project and the federal courthouse does not count toward the debt limit.
Holloway said he does not foresee the city getting any deeper in debt.
“I don’t think there will be anything the city will take out bonds on, so I think our total debt will keep decreasing,” he said.
©2012 The Natchez Democrat (Natchez, Miss.)
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