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County leaders vote to borrow for jobs

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jobs at the Docker's facility north of Chapel Hill may well be more available and presumably more secure because of a unanimous vote by Marshall County commissioners on Monday night.

That's how County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett saw the situation before the monthly commission meeting when Commissioner Rocky Bowden recommend approval of a $515,500 loan - bolstered by a $222,500 federal grant - for a water utility project.

A new water tank for the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities - chaired by Bowden - will increase water pressure in that north county area and therefore increase fire protection for Dockers, Bowden and other MCBPU officials have said in monthly meetings for nearly a year.

Dockers is "looking to expand," Liggett explained last week. The $222,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help "create a few more jobs."

Increased water pressure will increase fire safety at the building on Nashville Highway along CSX railroad tracks between Chapel Hill and College Grove. It's among the biggest distribution centers in the southeast.

Bowden acknowledged phraseology in the county commission's resolution and its caption that would indicate that the county's property tax base is the ultimate guarantee for repayment, but because it's an MCBPU water utility project that's being funded, state law affects the situation. In Tennessee, utilities are required to be self-sufficient.

"This is exactly the same [sort of resolution] as the others you've approved over the years," Bowden told his fellow commissioners. "It has nothing to do with property taxes."

The debt "will be, strictly, repaid from water sales," the MCBPU chairman said.

There's another advantage for MCBPU from installing more water pipes in that area.

Greater pressure will increase flow and so water will not be stagnant in some areas, thereby increasing water quality and reducing maintenance costs.

"You wouldn't believe the amount of water we flush off to pass our state inspections," Bowden said.