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County reviewing fair board financials


ROME TOWNSHIP — As a back hoe started digging at the site at the fairgrounds Monday for the new livestock barn, the county treasurer continued reviewing financial statements from the fair board to determine if $700,000 of the county’s money will go to the barn project.

“I would be reviewing information,” County Treasurer Stephen Burcham said. “I’ve already reviewed some of the financials. The auditor of state performs an audit of them and I’ve reviewed the past several years.”

Last week the county’s advisory investment board — made up of the three commissioners, the county treasurer and the clerk of courts — voted to buy $700,000 of bonds the fair board hopes to issue, if it gains approval of bond counsel.

Earlier this year, the county, acting as a fiscal agent, borrowed $400,000 from PNC Bank at 2.99 annual interest, to pay for the construction of a livestock barn and arena. That money was originally to be paid back by the fair board from pledges solicited during last year’s summer fair.

If the fair board is allowed to issue the bonds, it plans to pay back the county and use the remainder to pay for barn construction. The bonds would be for 10 years at 2.15 percent annual interest.

“We would be discussing the pledges, the specific individuals who have made the pledges and the likely collectability,” Burcham said.

Burcham likened the county buying fair board bonds to the fair board applying to a bank for a loan.

“They have to provide financial information,” Burcham said. “We have to do our due diligence that the county’s money would be returned on the investment plus the interest. It is not one of those things where we say, ‘Hey, we are going out and do this.’ We have to look at all of the information they would be able to provide regarding the project. The advisory committee is just an advisory committee. The treasurer’s office is going to make sure to do everything we need to do to make sure it is proper.”

Using county money for the fair barn is part of Burcham’s Neighborhood Investment Program where the county buys the bonds issued by governmental agencies at a higher rate than it would get on certificates of deposit from banks. All issuances are reviewed by bond counsel before the county proceeds.

Burcham said that review can take from two to six weeks.