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BOC approves Bear Creek Reservoir loan
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The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved accepting a $21 million state loan for the construction of Bear Creek Reservoir.

The vote comes after a nearly hour-long presentation on the reservoir, and the county's need for it, Monday night from County Attorney Tommy Craig. Also at Craig's suggestion, the board unanimously approved hiring Krebs Engineering to develop a master water supply contract and Schnabel Engineering to design the dam for the reservoir. Craig said the two firms were among the best he'd worked with in the reservoir business.

The $21 million, 40-year loan has very affordable rates and will pay for the construction of the dam and reservoir, which is expected to take about two years. The loan was awarded by the Governor's Water Supply Program; the actual money comes from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Newton's loan calls for 0 percent interest for the first three years of construction and 1 percent interest for any construction time after that, which doesn't have to be paid at the time but can be added to the loan amount. Then for the remainder of the 40 years, the interest rate will be 1.82 percent, with the first seven years consisting of interest-only payments and the remaining years of principal and interest payments. There are also no loan closing fees.

"If you could get those terms on a home, you'd probably be out buying a mansion. It's really a wonderful deal for the county," Craig said at the time the loan was first announced.

County Manager John Middleton previously said the loan "can provide a very favorable arrangement for Newton County that is unavailable through any other funding sources, such as the bond market."

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