Action to save cash for county

By Mary Grzebieniak

The county refinanced some bonds in the past and saved $2.1 million.

MERCER, Pa. — County commissioners took action that they say could save the county $400,000 or more.

They approved amending a 2007 interest rate “swap,” on the county’s outstanding $30 million in bond debt to take advantage of a shift in interest rates.

The 2007 swap was similar to a mortgage refinancing and took advantage of an oddity in interest rates in which short-term rates were higher than long-term rates.

But County Fiscal Director John Logan said the long-term rates are now higher, and if financial markets continue the current trends, the county would benefit by reworking the agreement.

Two previous such swaps have saved the county $2.1 million, Logan said.

He pointed out no money had to be borrowed to build the new district justice office, under construction in Pine Township, due in part to such swaps.

The action approved Thursday will only go into effect if the market situation is such that the county gains at least $400,000 from it.

The money would become available immediately to the county, and Logan said commissioners have decided to dedicate any proceeds from the adjustment to capital improvements.

The bonds originally were issued for county capital improvements including the courthouse renovation.

In other business:

UCommissioners accepted a $50,000 grant from the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and Education for the Penn State Cooperative Extension here to continue the “Our Children, Our Future” program. The program helps meet needs of children from newborn to age 8. A local share will be provided with no cost to the county. This will be the program’s seventh year.

USigned a four-year agreement with Infocon Corp., Ebensburg, to provide software and optical imaging for the clerk of courts, register of wills and clerk of orphans court offices. Initial setup fee is $10,560, and monthly rental will be $1,179. The fees are being paid from the automation accounts in those offices for this year. Clerk of Courts Kathy Kloos, who oversees the offices, says the program will provide easier computer access to court information.

UEntered a lease agreement with Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., for two optical scanners, related software and services to be used to tabulate absentee ballots. Cost is $1,920.

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