Isle of Wight will attempt to trim debt service

Published 12:48 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight County is headed to the bond market in an attempt to save about $3 million on its debt service burden.

Isle of Wight is ranked seventh in per capita debt among counties in Virginia, according to the fiscal 2016 Comparative Report of Local Government.

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Isle of Wight has an outstanding debt load of $219.9 million — or $6,035 for every man, woman and child living here.

The state average among counties is $5,016 per capita. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Of the six counties with more debt, five have more than 100,000 people — Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Spotsylvania and Stafford. Goochland is the lone county with a higher per capita debt ratio but a smaller population than Isle of Wight at 22,277.

Isle of Wight’s population is 36,438, according to the report.

Jimmy Sanderson, senior vice president with Davenport and Company, laid out a plan Thursday to ease the impact of a looming debt service spike, which begins in fiscal 2019 and lasts for nine years.

Isle of Wight County’s debt service will be in excess of $12 million from fiscal 2019 through 2027, according to a report by Davenport.

For fiscal 2018, Isle of Wight will pay $10.4 million in debt service.

The bond refunding includes those issued in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

The potential savings begins in fiscal 2018 with $264,022 and continues in varying amounts through 2043, according to Davenport.

Sanderson said the process does not require a public hearing as the bonds had already gone through that process and all that is necessary is a resolution.

Newport District Supervisor William McCarty asked if the fee involved in the proposed refunding could be negotiated.

Sanderson said it was not negotiable since it included many fixed costs, and was already included in the numbers presented.

By comparison 10 years ago, Isle of Wight had a per capita debt of $1,922 and the average state-wide was higher, at $2,300.

By 2012, Isle of Wight County’s debt had doubled to $4,890 and gone well beyond the state average, which had grown more slowly and was at $2,757.

Some of the projects requiring debt since 2002 have included the Young-Laine Courts Building, the Isle of Wight County Animal Shelter, Georgie D. Tyler Middle School, the Isle of Wight County Volunteer Rescue Squad facility, the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department facility and the Norfolk water deal.

Last year, the Board voted to spend $8 million on a new E911 radio system for all first responders.

In April, the Board voted to take out a nearly $8 million loan to finance a new in-county Career and Technical Education program with Isle of Wight County schools. The bond is for 13 years and has an annual payment of $715,829.  {/mprestriction}