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Levy County schools borrow $5 million to cover expenses

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By Claude Lewis

BRONSON -- The School Board of Levy County needs a quick $5 million.

With no sympathetic philanthropists in sight, the next best thing to do was to see which bank offered the best loan deal.

Board members OK'd borrowing the large sum of money from Sun Trust Bank out of Jacksonville at its Nov. 20 meeting.

The money is needed to cover overall operating costs -- including payroll -- for county schools for at least the next couple of months.

The shortage was anticipated by schools financial director Bob Clemons after learning that the mailing of the county's property tax bills would be delayed. They were not mailed out until Wednesday.

Late mailing equals the school?s portion of tax money coming in late, creating the need for the loan.

"We've drawn down our reserves," Clemons said. "It could be January before we get tax receipts. They said they had software issues."

Clemons said the School Board had to also borrow money last year, when the property tax bills went out Nov. 9.

There were two banks offering loans to Levy Schools -- Sun Trust Bank and Capital City Bank.

Sun Trust was approved because of a lower 3.5399 percent interest rate.

Over a two-month payback period, the interest costs would total $34,498.66.

No concern, according to Clemons, since the school board receives 5.6 percent interest in its own account.

"We'll keep the money out long enough to cover our payroll," he said. "We make money by borrowing money."