County clears airport bond issue
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Darlington County Council convened a special meeting Aug. 24 to hold third and final reading on Ordinance 15-23, which clears the way for issuance and sale of a bond of not more than $550,000 to fund improvements and equipment purchases at the Darlington County Airport.
This bond issue would refinance and restructure the approximately $520,000 existing principal of the Airport Revenue Bond in November and allow for the near-term purchase of $89,280 in equipment (truck, tractor, and rotary mower) without increasing the bond’s current $67,000 annual payment. The county obtained a more favorable 4-percent interest rate for the bond refunding from Carolina Bank.
Council also approved second reading on two other airport ordinances:
No. 15-26 establishes minimum standards for aeronautical services and vehicle operations at the airport, providing some protection for the county in case of hazard incidents by local operators or tenants.
No. 15-27 provides a supplemental appropriation for the $550,025 project to repair the airport’s runway lights and carry out shoulder demolition, which the ordinance extract calls “a much needed upgrade to the airport and its tenants.”
Of that $550,025 in total costs, a grant from the FAA will reimburse 90-percent of total costs and the State Airport Commission will kick in an additional 5-percent, leaving Darlington County responsible for only $27,501.
The Darlington County Sheriff’s Office received clearance to accept $24,575 from the U.S. Justice Department Assistance Grant (JAG) program, some of which will be used to buy body cameras for deputies. There is no local match required for this grant.
Council carried over a few other matters from the agenda, including two single source equipment purchases proposed by the Darlington County Fire District: the first for 114 self contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) costing $778,967, and a second for 18 portable 800 MHz radios costing $29,160.
DCFD Chief Kenny Stratton indicated these radios would allow interoperability with state and local agencies, which are currently using 800 MHz while DCFD still uses VHF radios. The SCBAs would replace older units and would allow each of the District’s interior firefighters to have their own breathing unit facepiece. Stratton also noted that the proposed sole source procurer for the SCBAs – Newton’s Fire and Safety of North Carolina – is the regional vendor for this equipment.
These purchases would be funded from the DCFD’s 4-mill general obligation bond. Council still opted to carry over the purchases and seek bids from other vendors for the equipment.
One other matter was also postponed for action: council did not vote on second reading of Ordinance 15-28, which would authorize a for a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes (FILOT) agreement between Darlington County and an unnamed company (referred to as Project Beacon IX) that may expend about $10 million on a local facility.
Darlington County Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Sep. 21, 6 p.m., at the Courthouse Annex located at 1625 Harry Byrd Hwy in Darlington.