Ward County achieves milestone

Commission approves final payment on buildings

A milestone for Ward County came Tuesday when the county commission approved the final bond payment for the construction of the Ward County Jail expansion and new Ward County Administration Building.

Voters approved a half-percent sales tax in 2012 to pay for building construction.

The final payment of about $1.88 million means future collections from the county half-percent sales tax will fully go to the county highway department for highway projects. Collections average just over $7 million a year.

In drafting this year’s budget, the commission had voted to use accumulated sales tax dollars to pay off the building construction costs in a 2017 bond at the end of 2023 and to make the last payment on a 2020 bond in 2024.

Auditor/Treasurer Marisa Haman said there may be a final administrative fee left to pay on the 2020 bond, but the county will no longer have the bond obligations once the $1.88 million payment is finalized.

The 2012 measure approved by voters included $10 million for roads, although sales tax collections provided only about $3 million and fell short of fully covering building expenses.

In 2020, voters approved extending the sales tax for 20 years beyond its sunset in December 2022, with proceeds going to roads once the buildings were paid off. County commissioners also in 2020 refinanced the bonds, which helped accelerate repayment.


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