Prattville Mayor requests $3.1 million loan for bond payment

Posted by Samuel King - bio | email

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Some Prattville city council members say they were surprised by an announcement from Mayor Jim Byard.  The mayor says he's ready to go to the bank to borrow $3 million to make a bond payment that's due soon.

The new retail developments along Cobbs Ford Road in Prattville have brought millions to the city's coffers.  But those millions didn't come without some cost to the city.  The city borrowed millions to help pay incentives to attract many of those stores and businesses - like the Bass Pro Shops and the new Kohl's.

"It's definitely an investment, it has paid off, it will pay off, these are tough times," Byard said.

Along with money borrowed to make capital improvements, the city owes more than $6 million dollars in debt service payments for this fiscal year, which began October 1st.  $3.1 million of that is due November 1st, so Byard will ask the city council to approve a loan to help make that payment.

"This is the budget year that our debt service goes to the highest point," Byard said.  "That coupled with the economic times that we live in.  This is just this is the best business decision for us at this moment.'

But council members told WSFA 12 News they were not aware that this debt payment would be due so quickly.  They said had they known, they would have adjusted the budget that was approved last week.  That doesn't sit so well with Dr. Gerald Cimis who frequently attends council meetings.

"None of it was discussed during the public meetings, the budget work sessions or the public hearing, none of this was discussed, that we had to take out a $3.1 million loan just to meet our recurring bond payments," Dr. Cimis said.

Byard says some of the council members knew about the size and the timing of the payment and the others should have known, too.  He says the city had no other choice at this point, but says the city is otherwise in solid financial shape.

"We have good reserves, this is just a large lump sum payment that is due during our leanest time," Byard said.  "This is a business decision, pure and simple."

The mayor says if approved, the loan would be paid back in February.  The city expects an influx of revenue from holiday shopping and business license the fees after the first of the year.  The council is set to consider this loan request on Tuesday.

©2010 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.