Episcopal group receives county OK for $40 million in bonds for buildings

June 30, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The county authorized yesterday $40 million in industrial revenue bonds to help Episcopal Ministries to the Aging build a corporate headquarters in Sykesville.

The loan will help EMA, the parent company of Fairhaven Retirement Community and Copper Ridge, consolidate its debt. Repayment rests solely with EMA, and the county incurs no financial obligation.

"People who invest in these bonds look solely to the user for repayment," said Don Bradfield, EMA executive vice president and general counsel.

The money will refinance debt at a lower interest rate and pay for the acquisition of land at Route 32 and Johnsville Road, the construction of an office complex and improvements to existing buildings, Bradfield said.

"We are always excited when a resident industry expands," said Jack Lyburn, county economic development director. "This is a great opportunity and it's a pass-through for us. It is not on our balance sheet."

Federal revenue bonds provide the funding, while the county serves as a conduit for the fund transfer, said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge. The county relies on the bonds to finance local industrial projects, including two previously by EMA, but it does not incur any liability, she said.

"Basically, the county serves as an outlet to make these projects work," said Gouge. "These are federal revenue bonds and there is no obligation to the county."

The bond issue will help EMA qualify for an interest rate as much as 2 percentage points below the prevailing rate, Lyburn said.

"This will allow them to grow and to finance that growth at a low rate of interest," said Lyburn. EMA expects to begin construction this fall on a 25,000-square-foot corporate complex on 3.5 acres. The headquarters will house offices for about 40 employees working at Fairhaven.

The property, which falls under county zoning, was the organization's second choice. EMA was unable to win zoning approval to build on land it owned within the town of Sykesville, as planned.

Pub Date: 6/30/99

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