The city had applied for a loan totaling $1,360,000, which would accompany a grant of $981,000. The USDA loan would have to be repaid over a period of 40 years, which would require monthly payment of approximately $4,700 per month.
Miklas said the city would not be able to meet the repayment schedule. He was concerned it would force Kingston to default.
He continued, asking the USDA representative if the city could qualify for a $1.5 million grant and a $800,000 loan. These amounts would reduce the city’s monthly payments to approximately $3,000 per month, Miklas said.
Tammy Decker, the USDA area specialist representing the department, said such an arrangement was not possible.
“Quite frankly, the grant that we offer is pretty much our maximum. The maximum we can provide is 45 percent of any total cost of construction,” Decker said.
The combined funds would finance a major effort to repair and renovate Kingston’s water utilities. Decker said the loan repayments were calculated using water rates paid in and around the city. Other sources of income, such as the Local Option Sales Tax, were not used to calculate the loan. When Miklas asked what water rate numbers were used for the loan calculation, no one on the council was able to answer.
Miklas then asked what would happen if the city accepted the loan and was unable to pay and defaulted.
Decker said such a situation had not yet occurred in Georgia, but there were procedures in place if it did happen.
“Theoretically, what we would do is put a trustee in charge of the system who would then raise the rates to whatever they needed to be to start paying the loan back,” she said. “Theoretically, it would take a while, but that’s what would happen.”
Mayor Ron Casey said it would take a long time for Kingston to get back to the point of being able to consider a loan offer if this one was rejected.
“If we don’t accept the loan then we go to the back of the list again. We’ve been at the back of the list for a while before this grant, or loan, came up,” he said.
The council could not take a vote on the loan issue, as it was a work session.
Interim Police Chief Clay Patterson gave his monthly report to the council, saying Kingston police had reached an agreement with the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office where the BCSO will process all fingerprints for Kingston.
Patterson also installed eight security cameras around city hall and the police station. They are focused on the parking lot, interior offices, evidence locker and police chief’s office, among other areas. The entire system, including the monitor and recording device, cost $750. Funds for the purchase came from the police department’s technology budget.
“It’s professional. It’s going to provide us with more security. We don’t have any. Our department is left unattended more than it’s attended so I think that’s needed, ” Patterson said about the camera system.
He also asked for the council to consider placing ads for reserve officers. Patterson said he wanted to see more time dedicated to patrols and believed additional officers serving a few times a month would make an impact on the community. While Kingston police would provide the uniforms, the reserve officers would be required to provide their own firearm, Patterson added.
The council said they would consider the suggestion.
Other council business included:
• Hearing from Tom Gunnell, division manager at Allied Waste Services, on improvements to the city’s trash collection;
• Discussing the removal of a parking space in downtown Kingston to allow handicapped access;
• Discussing the possibility of providing health insurance for city employees;
• Discussing the number of bids needed for awarding a contract to put barbed wire on city fences; and
• Discussing the type and amount of tables needed for the city’s park and covered pavilion.
The Kingston City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 13, at 7 p.m. at city hall.