FARMINGTON – County Commissioners agreed unanimously Tuesday to submit an application for a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan for construction of a proposed county building in Fairbanks.

Smith Reuter Lull Architects invited USDA officials to the commissioners’ meeting to discuss the merits of taking a loan from the agency.

Submitting an application gets the process started at no cost to the county, Dennis Beaulieu from USDA’s Rural Development program told the commission.

Although the project is estimated to begin next year, USDA now has funds available through the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009, said Ronald Lambert of the USDA.

Once the application process, including a review by a USDA engineer, is completed and approved, money could be set aside for the project that could lock the county into a 4.5 percent interest rate for either 30 or 40 years. If interest rates go down, the county’s interest rate would be adjusted; but if the rate goes up, the county’s rate would not change, the USDA officials said.

Commissioner Fred Hardy asked about the possibility of getting a grant through Rural Development.

That could be difficult because recipients, such as volunteer fire departments, have to show they can’t borrow money, Lambert said.

The amount loaned could change as many construction bids are coming in under estimates, Beaulieu said. The county would only be obligated for what it needs to borrow.

Saying, “You don’t get a better deal than with the U.S. government,” Commissioner Gary McGrane moved to start the application process.

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