County Mayor Bill Brittain said Thursday that a bond issue for $20 million to help pay for a new Hamblen County Jail, along with renovations to Morristown-Hamblen High School West, went better than expected.
“The bottom line, is it’s going to save us money,” Brittain said.
The county put the bond up for sale Wednesday after the County Commission reapproved the issue.
Brittain said there were a total of eight bids.
“It was a competitive bid,” he said.
The winning bidder was Robert, W. Baird Co., an underwriting company based in Wisconsin. Brittain said the true interest rate for the bond came in at 2.395%, what he described as a very low interest rate and will be paid over a 30-year period, Brittain said.
The bond issue could be the first of several more bond issues over the next few years, county officials said. Brittain has said the county could look at doing three more bond issues.
The commission in October approved spending up to $85 million to build a new jail and have money for West High School improvements.
The estimated jail price tag has been around $75 million, while the West High School project is around $10 million.
Designs for a new jail are still under consideration. Right now, the county is looking at a four-story building with the top three floors used for housing inmates. At West High School, the school system plans to build an administrative office at the front of the building, expand the cafeteria and renovate the bathrooms. That project is expected to start within months.
Brittain said it was a good time for bond sales. The county currently has a AAA bond rating, which is the highest rating.
“There’s a shortage of high quality tax exempt bonds out there,” Brittain said. “The cost is at a very good rate.”