Fiscal court recruiting efforts pay off

The Bell County Fiscal Court met at 11 a.m. on Thursday for a special-called meeting in regards to approving the first reading of an ordinance to approve a general obligation lease agreement for nearly half a million dollars.

According to Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock, his office has been competing with officials in Kingston, Tenn. over the course of the last eight to 10 months, trying to get Coldstream Fisheries Inc., to locate in Bell County.

Headquartered in Arkansas, Coldstream Fisheries is the the largest bait company east of the Mississippi River, and has been looking to expand their business to the eastern seaboard.

“We being the fiscal court and the industrial foundation, put a package together that ultimately ended up winning their business,” said Brock. “They are expanding their business to try to basically take over the eastern seaboard as it applies to live bait.”

Brock explained the details of the package and what the ordinance entailed in regards to the court’s involvement in the deal.

“What we’re doing today is, I am going to ask you to approve this ordinance which will allow us to borrow $496,000,” began Brock. “We are going to loan that $496,000 to the Bell County Industrial Foundation, they are in turn going to build a building and enter into a lease with Coalstream Fisheries, and Coalstream Fisheries will pay the Bell County Industrial Foundation, the Industrial Foundation will pay us, and then we will pay this loan.”

Brock also explained what some may perceive as a “potential gamble” in the deal.

“Now, having said that, if Coalstream Fisheries goes bankrupt, we will be on the hook to pay this loan,” explained Brock. “That’s the gamble, I guess if there is such a thing in this, that we would take.”

Brock also discussed the positive effects the new business would have on Bell County.

“We are often asked, ‘What are you doing to try to create jobs?’ This is something that we are doing to create jobs,” Brock said.

Initially, Coalstream Fisheries will employ 15 to 20 people with the possibility of employing 40. The jobs are expected to be above minimum wage jobs and will likely include overtime.

The ordinance was unanimously approved on the first reading.

If the ordinance is passed, Coalstream Fisheries will be located off of Cumberland Avenue in Middlesboro.

The ordinance read as follows on the agenda for the special called meeting:

“Approve 1st reading of an Ordinance of the Fiscal Court of the County of Bell, Kentucky (“County”), authorizing and approving a general obligation lease agreement in an amount not to exceed $496,000 (“Lease”) pursuant to the authority granted by Sections 65.940 through 65.956 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes (“Act”), the proceeds from which will be used to (1) finance the cost of the acquisition, development, and construction of a county building to be used for a public purpose; (2) finance accrued interest, if any; and (3) pay the cost of issuance; authorizing the levy of a direct annual tax on all taxable property within the county, in addition to all other taxes, in an amount sufficient to pay the lease rental payments due under the lease, when and as the same become due, provided however, that said tax shall be levied only in the event and only in the extent that revenue from the project, together with any other revenues are not sufficient to provide for the full payment of the lease rental payments due under this lease; authorizing and approving the establishment of certain funds to provide for the collection of the proceeds of the tax; authorizing and approving certain other actions with regard to the financing of the project, including but not limited to federal tax certificate or tax regulatory agreement, if required, and such other documents, agreements and certificates necessary or required for entering into the lease; and designating the lease as a “bank qualified” obligation for the federal income tax purposes.”

Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-302-9091.

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