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Paul Evans

JASPER, Tenn. — The Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen has been working for months to refinance the city's $1.17 million debt service. And at its December meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve a resolution to do so.

Mayor Paul Evans said the state comptroller's office approved the town's deal with Mountain Valley Bank in Dunlap, Tenn., to refinance the loan at a 2.6 percent interest rate over a 12-year term.

"It's actually going to save the town over $605,000 for the duration of this loan," he said.

The original loan had a 4.25 percent interest rate over 27 years.

Evans said the town received two other proposals from the Tennessee Municipal League in Nashville and First Volunteer Bank in Chattanooga.

TML had a 2.95 percent interest rate, and First Volunteer offered a 2.61 percent interest rate for five years, which was rejected by the state comptroller's office.

"We looked at this over the last several months, and I think it's a good thing for the town," Alderman Paul West said. "We [the board] kind of inherited this long-term debt."

In other business, the board voted unanimously to apply for a $500,000 Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation grant that would be used to create a backup water supply interconnect with neighboring South Pittsburg, Tenn.

The grant doesn't require any matching money from the city, officials said.

Jasper was "in good shape" during the recent drought's long stretches without rain, Evans said, but other nearby towns that are farther from large water sources like Whitwell, Dunlap and Pikeville did not fare as well.

"We're so close to the Tennessee River, it doesn't affect us as much," he said.

Still, city leaders wanted to be prepared in case the drought worsens.

"This right here would give us an opportunity to have a backup in case something happens to our [water] plant," Evans said.

South Pittsburg has a similar water interconnect with Bridgeport, Ala., and Evans said the drought has spurred TDEC to offer no-match grants for similar situations.

Gary Cosby, an engineer with CTI Engineers, Inc., said Jasper "needs" the interconnection.

Jasper had applied for grant funding for the water project before, but didn't get the money.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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