Members of the Cocke County Finance Committee meeting Monday agreed to recommend the county refinance $1.9 million in current debt.

Scott Gibson, of Cumberland Securities, said the move could drop the interest rate from the current 3.8 percent down to two percent or lower.

Although the refinancing will cost about $50,000 in fees, Gibson said the county will save an estimated $130,000 in interest over the next 10 years.

Matt Bruck, of Civil Engineering Consultants, said the cost of additional soil boring on the proposed Highway 25E industrial park will cost about $8,700. Most of the due diligence has already been done.

Robb Miller, of Buxton Analytics, proposed a contract which would have his firm do a study on retail recruitment opportunities for the community. He said often a retailer looks at 10 to 15 communities before choosing one site.

The study would look at recruiting new retailers while at the same time supporting existing retailers, at a cost of $65,000 the first year and $50,000 annually for two additional years.

Committee Chair Forest Clevenger said he would only support such a move if the cost could be shared with the City of Newport.

“I’d hate for us to pay the whole bill and the city reap all the benefits,” he explained.

CLB Chair Clay Blazer questioned the research method, pointing out many local residents buy with cash and relying on credit card usage would not result in a valid survey of local spending. But he added, “If we don’t go with a firm like this, we won’t recruit the retail firms we want.”

Following a report by Chief Deputy Derrick Woods, the committee agreed to recommend $9,000 be appropriated for needed equipment for new seven new school resource officers whose salary will be funded primarily with state dollars.

The county recently advertised for replacement of the roofs on the courthouse and courthouse annex, but the bids came in with a spread of $79,000. The bidders suggested the county hire an engineer to draw up specs for all bidders to go by, in an effort to ensure consistent bids on the project.