The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved an $18.2 million bond of tax payer money to pay for a recycling facility - a facility that now sits empty.
The nearly 40-acre site just south of Highway 5 in Ball Ground was supposed to create millions in revenue for the county and dozens of jobs. That all changed when Jimmy Bobo stopped paying the bill and filed for bankruptcy. Now the county tax payers are left footing the bill.
In the original agreement, according to the Cherokee County Grand Jury report, Bobo was supposed to repay the bond in monthly installments of $100,000 for 30 years.
"They should have looked into a little more carefully in investing that money into a private company," Allen Walter, a concerned resident, said. "A private company should be private, government should stay out of the private industry."
Walter and others wonder how they are going to recoup the losses the county currently faces.
Commissioner Buzz Ahrens said the bill now sits at $1.8 million in tax payer money lost, but there could be worse news.
"Another issue has surfaced that could add another $1.5 million to the total obligation," Ahrens said.
The Grand Jury made 13 recommendations in their report.
One statement said, "Tax payers should not be required to pay for the bad business decisions of the authority and their business partners."
Post 1 Commissioner Harry Johnston reacted to the Grand Jury report via email but would not comment on camera.
"The Grand Jury report did not indicate that any laws were violated. It made a number of suggestions about dealing with the default of the former operator, most of which we're already pursuing," Johnston said. "It also made suggestions about how to better structure such facilities and related financing in the future, but I think it's highly unlikely that we'll ever undertake to build another facility or enter into a new agreement of this nature."
People who live in Cherokee County said this type of business venture was disappointing.
"I think it is a pretty poor excuse for management with money," Robby Priest, a concerned citizen, said. "I am a local business owner trying to make ends meet and to have people doing that and our folks letting it happen gives you a sore stomach."
Johnston said they are working hard to find someone to buy the facility.
"We're negotiating with some other interested operators to take it over, but we don't yet have a final deal worked out with any of them," Johnston said. "But it may not be 100 percent good news because we may have to accept a lease deal that doesn't fully cover the debt service payments on the facility. We hope to reach an agreement within the next couple of months.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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