Federal budget cuts could mean less money for county

PARKERSBURG – As a result of federal budget cuts, Wood County may see a reduction in the amount of interest reimbursement received on bonds for the justice center.

County commissioners signed on to a tax-exempt federal Recovery Act Bond program for the justice center. As part of the federal bond program, the county was to recoup 45 percent of the interest payments on the loan.

The county was recently notified by bond counsel John Stump that “the federal budget crisis is causing a reduction in the amount of subsidy from the federal government on existing Build America Bonds,” and the change in subsidy will impact the bonds issued for the justice center.

The federal action means a 5.1 percent reduction for fiscal year 2013, which amounts to about $5,000 that would not be returned to the county coffers. County officials said the interest payment reimbursements go back into the county building fund.

It is noted the order does not affect payments for future years, although under the Budget Control Act of 2011 there could be additional sequester orders for future fiscal years through and including fiscal year 2021.

Payments already made since fiscal year 2013, which began on Oct. 1, 2012, were not reduced. The $218 million is to be recovered out of payments yet to be made in fiscal year 2013, those payments will be cut more than 5.1 percent in order to achieve the $218 million.

“It’s only 5.1 percent, about $5,000, we lost, but it does bother us. Of course, we would have still liked to have that $5,000, we could use it. But we had no idea they were going to reduce it. What is, is, we would certainly rather it didn’t happen because we could use that money, but it did, and we have no choice since they are writing the checks,” said commission President Wayne Dunn.

“Once you enter an agreement, you would think the agreement would remain the same, but it is what it is,” said Commissioner Blair Couch.

Dunn said he doesn’t regret using the federal bond program.

“It was a wonderful thing, we are still getting money back, it was still one of the best deals we could ever have gotten,” Dunn said.

After two years of planning and preparation, the county oversaw conversion of the former Hintgen building into the new Wood County Justice Center, which provided new offices for the sheriff’s law enforcement, a smaller holding center, and the magistrate court. The new facility was dedicated on Dec. 29, 2011. Final cost for the new building was around $5.1 million.