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June 14--  The City of Vidalia is getting out of the revolving loan business.

At it's monthly meeting Monday, the city council voted to pull out of the state-sponsored program which makes low cost loans available to local businesses in return for job creation or job retention.  Officials said it's hard to find businesses which qualify for the loans and repayment sometimes becomes a problem.

City Finance Director Bill Bedingfield reports the city currently has outstanding loans totaling $285,000 to three companies.  Two of the companies have defaulted and a third is in arrears, he said.

The cash balance of $164,000 in the account is being returned to the state.  In return, the city will receive five bonus points on its application for a $750,000 state grant to improve water and sewer in the city.

Meanwhile, Toombs County remains in the program and currently has $200,000 available to loan.

Michelle Johnson with the Toombs County Development Authority says the county has existing loans in good standing of $125,000 to U.S. Energy and $436,000 to Bo Herndon's Super Fit Greens produce company.

According to Bedingfield, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has about $7 million dollars being held by more than 70 local governments and is encouraging them to return the money if it can't be used for viable loans.

In his financial report, Bedingfield noted:

*Most of the city's 2017 property taxes have been collected.  There's an outstanding unpaid balance of $162,224.74 which may lead to the sale of property at public auction in September.

*Sales tax collections are slightly ahead of last year, i.e., Local Option Sales Taxes are up .73 of one percent and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes are up only .23 of one percent.

*Transportation Sales Tax collections are down to date from last year 1.19%.

*Hotel/Motel tax collections to date are down .40 of one percent.

*Tax collections on the sale of alcohol are down nearly 8% to date this year.

The council approved a recommendation from councilman Eddie Tyson, chairman of the Water and Sewer Committee, that fees for city labor and materials be increased regarding the installation of water meters and water, sewer and drainage lines.  Tyson said the city has been losing money on such installations.

City Manager Nick Overstreet reported:

*Construction of the Mose Coleman Road extension to Ezra Taylor Road is ready to proceed pending receipt of permits from the Army Corps of Engineers.

*Construction of the Michael Collins Road is being coordinated between city engineers and engineers for the proposed Holiday Inn Express.

*Construction of the Boys and Girls Club addition is complete except from some minor punch list fixes by the contractor.

*Renovation of City Hall is planned for Spring.

*Renovation of the Pal Theater is moving forward and should be completed in late Fall.

*The Darby Gym repainting and repairs have been completed by crews from the Department of Corrections which saved city funds.  Likewise, prison crews and equipment may be used to demolish the Bay Street pool later this year.

*Construction of the new city aquatic center on Airport Road has begun.

*Resurfacing of the parking lot at the Municipal Annex is scheduled to start in July by Sikes Brothers Paving and construction of a helipad and taxiway at the Vidalia Regional Airport by McLendon Enterprises is set to begin in mid-July.