JEFFERSON-To the delight of taxpayers countywide, Ashe County Commissioners officially checked off a lengthy financial commitment from the county’s ledger.
During a recent board of commissioners’ meeting, County Manager Sam Yearick announced that the loan for Ashe County High School has been paid off. Commissioners Larry Rhodes then made a motion to transfer the property deed for the high school to the board of education. Commissioner Jeff Rose seconded the motion. The motion passed with unanimous approval.
The payoff of the loan for the high school, which was constructed nearly 20 years ago, has set the county in prime financial position to move forward on other projects, including the construction of a new middle school and expansion of Wilkes Community College’s Ashe Campus, as well as a fire training center.
But the elimination of certain debts isn’t the only increase in funding the county will be enjoying.
Three years ago, citizens voted to increase the county sales tax by one quarter of 1 percent.
As a result, Ashe received roughly $540,000 a year with nearly all of that is going to Ashe Memorial Hospital annually.
The original agreement slated a three-year agreement with this fiscal year being the last installment.
Originally, the hospital approached the commissioners to ask for $1.5 million in funding. Instead, the county said they would let AMH have the sales tax proceeds for three years.
“We (the commissioners) indicated we would give that money to the hospital for the first three years and after the third year we agreed to put that money toward the building of a new middle school,” said Commissioner Larry Rhodes in a previous interview.
Remaining on the county’s balance is the jail and the detention center, which should be completed by 2029.
When the jail first opened, officials were able to set off costs of operating by housing inmates from other counties, such as Wilkes and Yadkin. Those counties have since built new facilities to house their inmates. At one point, Wilkes County was paying Ashe $1 million annually to house its inmates.
Previously, county officials said that debt service on Westwood elementary is also coming to a close and the library should be paid off by 2019.
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.
Commissioners recently announced that the county has completed its debt service for Ashe County High School, which was constructed in 1999.