Energy efficiency contract to save millions

By BETH BUNCH,

Forrest County is going green with a new energy efficiency contract, which should save the county between $4 and $5 million during the next 15 years.

During Monday’s meeting of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, the board approved a $4 million negotiable note, which will be used to pay for a performance-based energy efficiency contract with McNeil Rhodes of Pearl. The contract adds up to $2.9 million and will deal with efficiency of the county’s lighting, gas and water consumption.

Community Bank of Hattiesburg had the low bid for the loan with a 2.27 fixed interest rate. Five bids were submitted (BancorpSouth, 3.54 percent; Trustmark, 2.84 percent; Great Southern, 2.44 percent and The First, 4.05 percent). 

With Community Bank’s low rate, the county will pay off a negotiable note of $2 million that still has two years left to pay on it, and finance $2 million towards the energy contract with the remaining $900,000 coming from the county’s ending cash general fund balance.

According to Board President David Hogan, the county should save in excess of $4 to $5 million over the course of the next 15 years. 

“It’s backed by the Mississippi Development Authority and if it doesn’t perform the way specified in the contract there will be repercussions for the contractor providing those services,” Hogan said.

He explained that the county periodically works with local lending institutions, such as Community Bank, in this instance, to make purchases, or for infrastructure upgrades. 

“The board felt like using some of our ending cash and then borrowing some of the remainder at low cost here locally was the best option,” Hogan said.

“The board is proud to be entering this contract and feel very good about saving this money in energy costs for the taxpayers of Forrest County. If we can save more than a million dollars above what it will cost to implement it, it’s well worth it.”

The work is scheduled to start between by the end of the year.

In other business, the board:

• approved the purchase of a $3,200 sponsorship/advertisement for Live @ Five (12 shows) Downtown Summer Tunes (6 shows) or Both Series (198 shows) to be held at Town Square Park in Downtown Hattiesburg at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays, June, July and August, to advertise county resources;

• approved the burial/cremation of the unclaimed body of Charles Roy Barden at a cost to Forrest County of $500 payable to Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home Inc.

• implemented a new policy regarding the campground area at the Forrest County Multipurpose Center making it clear that permanent residency is not permitted. The new policy goes into effect April 1 and residents will have 30 days to final another location to move to.

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