RACINE COUNTY — The Racine County Board Tuesday night unanimously approved borrowing $79.205 million to help pay for costs associated with the Foxconn Technology Group project in Mount Pleasant.
The board authorized the sale of the bonds to J.P. Morgan Securities LLC with an interest rate of 2.44 percent. The sale of the bonds got the attention of the six largest banks in the country with each of them placing a bid, officials said.
The county plans to use $70 million to purchase land in Area I of the Foxconn development; $5 million for other projects related to Foxconn; $3.3 million to pay for the interest; and just over $573,000 to pay for professional services.
Area I of the development is the area bounded by Interstate 94 on the west, Highway H on the east, Highway KR on the south and Braun Road on the north.
Brian Della, senior managing consultant for PFM Financial Advisors, said the bonds can be refinanced in two or three years and likely will be paid off in 20 years.
“The debt service payments on those 20-year bonds will be made by, predominantly, the $70 million special assessment put on Area I and paid by Foxconn,” Della said.
The borrowing did have a slight negative impact on the county’s credit rating, which County Board members knew was likely to happen. The county rating fell just one spot from Aa1 to Aa2, according to the rating service Moody’s.
“Not a big move, just the smallest notch you can move down,” Della said. “No one likes to have their rating go down, but there’s nothing you can do about it and it’s not going to have a big impact on your borrowing rates.”
Before the sale of the bonds, the county’s debt was at $60 million. With the $79.2 million in new borrowing, and anticipated borrowing of an additional $62.6 million related to Foxconn, the county’s overall debt will be about $200 million.
The County Board on Tuesday unanimously approved adding the City of Burlington to its 911 joint dispatch operations based at the sheriff’s substation in Yorkville. Burlington will pay the county $183,000 per year, with that money being divided between the county and other municipalities that utilize the dispatch center for their police and fire operations.
The board also unanimously approved allocating $10,000 to the Gateway Technical College Foundation for the “Gateway Promise” program, which helps students from poor economic backgrounds enroll in courses. “That is a fund for eligible high school students who would have not been able to attend college,” Supervisor Janet Bernberg of Wind Point said. “I think it’s very deserving.”
As opioids continue to be a problem in Wisconsin, more than 20 counties in the state have joined a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and the County Board is considering a resolution that would authorize Racine County to join the lawsuit. The resolution was first read at the Tuesday meeting and will be discussed further, likely at the board’s Dec. 19 meeting.