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Public facilities authority holds first meeting
Tool for funding, financing projects
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

The Forsyth County Public Facilities Authority includes the following: Jerry Bowman, chairman; Michael Gravitt, vice chairman; Richard Ward, secretary; and members Paul Kreager and Edward Kroell.

It doesn’t have a cause yet, but the Forsyth County Public Facilities Authority officially formed on Wednesday.

The primary task of the five-member group, recently appointed by the county commission, is to act as a funding and financing tool for public facilities, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

"That’s a significant power," Jarrard said. "You are an authority and a vehicle by which, for instance, bonds can be issued, contracts can be issued [and] intergovernmental agreements can be issued with the board of commissioners that will allow all sorts of interesting financing of facilities and structures."

The county has no directions for the authority at this time, Jarrard said, but he thought it best to organize the group before a need arises.

The authority brought up the issue of building a county animal shelter, questioning whether that would be a project for which it could enable funding.

Jarrard explained that the body could issue a revenue stream bond backed by 1-cent sales tax collections, if the shelter is approved as part of the November project list vote.

He added that no direction has come from commissioners regarding a potential role for the authority in that project.

"I know the animal shelter has been batted around lately," Jarrard said. "It’s mere happenstance that we’re here doing this. This is something we’ve been wanting to do — to have an organizational meeting of the PFA — for a while. But that may be the first project. "

Jarrard, approved as counsel to the authority, also briefed members on some of the group’s other abilities, which include: operating, maintaining or leasing properties; owning land; and possibly having its own employees if the commission granted a budget.

While the authority can accomplish any tasks related to public facilities, he said, it serves a "more niched purpose."

"The tools that the PFA allows us to do from the perspective of financing, the board can’t do right now," Jarrard said.
The five members, after electing each other to positions, discussed plans for how to conduct business.

Paul Kreager said the group must be careful and ethical in choosing projects for alternate funding avenues.

"It could be interpreted and smell like a way to circumvent a vote by referendum," Kreager said. "That’s a consideration I think we have to be careful with."

Richard Ward pointed out the authority can decide which of the projects presented should be approved.

"We’re not elected, so we don’t have to worry about the political aspects. We can make honest, ethical decisions," Ward said. "We can do what’s right for the community without having to worry about the political side."

The authority set its second meeting for 2 p.m. Sept. 21. Members plan to discuss by-laws and begin the registration process with the state Department of Community Affairs.