- Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 21:14
- Published on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 21:14
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Board Chairman Woody Hynson had the late, but long-serving Westmoreland County Sheriff, Buddy Jackson, on his mind this Monday when the supervisors met with the Davenport & Company, bond counsel they share with the regional jail authority, to retire the bond issue that built the jail that paid for itself sooner than supposed.
The bonds were issued to support construction of a jail immediately outside the incorporated limits of Warsaw that would be shared by Westmoreland and Richmond counties and the Town of Warsaw.
A little later Northumberland County joined the regional jail enterprise and the town ex-panded its boundaries in multiple directions, but even before the construction project’s spring 1995 completion, Sheriff Jackson had added the United States Marshal Service to the mix.
Beds were allocated for federal prisoners and federal monies paid their way. Years passed and the jail’s federal section was expanded. The vision of Sheriff Jackson and Northern Neck Regional Jail Superintendent Jeff Frazier resulted in an operation that posed no financial burden on its member localities.
The action the Westmoreland Supervisors authorized on May 10 was billed as the “strategic defeasance of the jail indebtedness and refinanced capital payments.” In layman’s terms, it’s early retirement of the construction debt.
According to the paperwork provided by Davenport, “$2.485 million of 7.00% to 7.125% debt can be strategically paid off (i.e. defeased) which will produce cash flow savings.
“As operating costs of the jail continue to rise with inflation, pressure grows to either re-duce jail expenses (where possible) or take in additional non-local (e.g. federal) prisoners to defray rising costs. In addition, the availability of beds for non-local prisoners is being reduced as the local prisoner population increases.
“[The] Davenport Plan allows for a reduction in jail cash outlay over the next six years.” Westmoreland’s jail debt will no longer exist on June 15. Northumberland County’s buy-in debt obligation of 1998 will be refinanced at a lower interest rate, resulting in a $44,162.50 reduction of that jurisdiction’s annual debt retirement obligation.
It was Westmoreland’s Industrial Development Authority that floated the bonds and on Monday it became understood that the series’ early retirement saved Westmoreland County nearly $500,000.
Davenport’s Courtney Rogers explained that the bond issue’s defeasance will immediately “reduce the amount of fund balance the jail currently carries. The jail will look less prosperous.”
A large and audible sigh of relief traveled the length of the Board of Supervisors table, with Westmoreland officials whispering in near unison the shared understanding of state government’s unending practice of “looking for everything it can squeeze.”
The words from Board of Supervisors Chairman Woody Hynson reached all the way to the rear of the A.T. Johnson auditorium meeting room: “If you have a pot of money, somebody’s going to try to get it!”
The long-time Westmoreland supervisor clearly remembered all the years state officials attempted to lay claim to the regional jail’s profits from the federal prisoners, a measure that would have resulted in unwanted local funding obligations.
“The jail is now 15 years old. This action frees up funds to deal with [replacing things that are wearing out],” County Administrator Norm Risavi said. An example he cited were moving parts components of the jail’s electric doors.
Risavi agreed that if excess funds remained in hand, state government authorities would likely decrease the state’s contribution to the Compensation Board. “Squeeze” was the word he used a second time in the May 10 discussion when he explained that some of Virginia’s larger jurisdictions have similar concerns.
“The problem is when the big fellows go away and it’s just the rural localities,” Risavi said.
Supervisor Darryl Fisher has served on the Regional Jail Authority since its creation. He praised Risavi for having “initiated the [bond issue defeasance] action.
“Westmoreland is the major stakeholder in the jail, with also the largest debt responsibility,” Fisher commented. “Everyone has agreed that this is a good time to make the move with the profits that are in hand. Westmoreland County is the greatest beneficiary of this action, but Westmoreland County also took the greatest risk going in.
“Sometimes things go wrong, but this worked incredibly well. We couldn’t have had bet-ter partners than Richmond and Northumberland counties. I’m glad everyone agreed to do this.”
“I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Jackson,” said Chairman Hynson of the Westmoreland County Sheriff who passed away three years ago.
“By 1994 we had reached the point of having to spend a million dollars a year to operate our county jail. With the regional jail, it doesn’t cost the county. The entire concept turned out to be a very smart move.
“Buddy worked extremely hard to make this happen. He, Norm, Mr. Fisher and others stuck out their necks, but it turned out well financially for us. All of us owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Sheriff Jackson,” the Chairman noted for a final time.
Possible pulled quote:
“Buddy worked extremely hard to make this happen. He, Norm, Mr. Fisher and others stuck out their necks, but it turned out well financially for us. All of us owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Sheriff Jackson,”