The Development Authority of Bryan County received a good financial bill of health from the accountant who conducted its 2014 audit.
“We didn’t have any significant deficiencies to mention,” Statesboro-based certified public accountant Richard Deal told the DABC board of directors Wednesday morning.
The Development Authority had $18.3 million in total assets last year and $11.7 million in liabilities for a net of $6,547,910, a $35,000 increase from the year before. The vast majority of the DABC’s assets are industrial-park properties, primarily the 1,100-acre Interstate Centre.
The development authority’s net cash decreased by $458,000 from the previous year, which CEO Anna Chafin attributed largely to the DABC refinancing its loan on the Interstate Centre III property.
“We had just been paying interest on it, and we started paying principal last year,” Chafin said. “We’re paying out more principal than we had previously been paying.”
In February 2014, the DABC refinanced its $5.1 million loan from South State Bank on the nearly 300 acres at Interstate Centre III. The loan, which requires monthly payments of $32,546 at 1.65 percent interest through February 2021, has an outstanding balance of $4.9 million.
The DABC also has $5 million left to pay through March 2021 on its loan for the 442 acres at Interstate Centre II. That loan also was refinanced last year.
“We are trying, over time, to decrease our debt obligations,” Chafin said. “We have made investments in land because you need to have land in order to try to recruit companies here to create jobs and generate investment in the community. To me, the land purchase is the cost of doing business and, over time, we’ll pay that down.”
The Development Authority’s operating expenses for 2014 were $788,871, according to the audit. The largest portion of that was recruiting incentives for countertop manufacturer Caesarstone, which opened its manufacturing plant in Belfast Commerce Center in May of this year.
On the revenue side, the DABC received more than $800,000 in funding from Bryan County, of which $300,000 was Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue, according to Deal. The development authority also collected $58,838 from selling 5.94 acres in Interstate Centre.
The one item the board questioned in the audit was $44,000 in expenses for repairs and maintenance. Board member Steve Croy asked what was included under that category.
“I’m just curious. It just seemed like a high number,” Croy said.
Neither Deal nor Chafin had the breakdown of those expenses handy. Because of that, the board took Chafin’s suggestion to wait until its Sept. 23 meeting to approve the audit.
“We’ll get clarification on that and send it out,” Chafin said.
Chafin concluded the meeting by showing the board of directors the DABC’s updated website, which includes a new look and beefed-up content about Bryan County’s demographics, amenities, available sites for development and available workforce.
Chafin pointed out the importance of having a strong website presence to recruit business prospects, who often use online resources to check out potential sites.
“A lot of times we’re being screened, and we don’t realize we’re being screened,” she said.
Chafin credited DABC project manager Erin Brown for the work she put in with a website-design firm to update the site. She added that it is a work in progress, and more content will be added.
To see the Development Authority’s website, go to bryancountyga.com.
In other business, the DABC elected its officers for the coming year.
Derrick Smith was re-elected as chairman, as was Billy Conley as treasurer. Also elected to one-year terms were Brad Brookshire as vice chairman and Noah Covington as secretary.