• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Court to issue $120 million in industrial revenue bonds

Woodford Fiscal Court Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to issue $120 million in industrial revenue bonds (IRBs) to allow Brown-Forman to build 12 new warehouses to store their high-end Woodford Reserve bourbon. The warehouses would be built on 100 acres of land that Brown-Forman wants to purchase at 960 Georgetown Road in Midway. Each warehouse would be 90,000 square feet and hold up to 65,000 barrels. State law allows the state and local governments to issue the IRBs, which finance construction and allow the company a property tax break on the increased value of the land. Barrel, distillate and payroll taxes are unaffected by the deal. Brown-Forman officials and their attorneys say the deal, under which the county has the title to the improvements and Brown-Forman makes the lease payments, puts the county at no financial risk. The bonds would be issued over a period of a decade, funding the construction of two new warehouses every two years. In 2014, the court agreed to a similar deal in which $60 million in IRBs were issued for four new warehouses, which are only little more than half-full. The resolution passed Tuesday night addresses the court's concern about a 2014 "pilot program" in which the company makes payments to the Woodford County School District in lieu of barrel taxes that would have been generated if the company had built the warehouses without the IRB tax breaks. Under Tuesday night's deal, Brown-Forman will send the pilot program funds directly to the county. At the April 12 court meeting, Judge-Executive John Coyle said the bulk of county non-payroll taxes go to the school system, and with few workers needed for the warehouses, the school district wouldn't have many new students. The company also agreed to pay for a set of nozzles and hoses for the county's fire station in Midway and pay for up to $25,000 worth of training "as needed" for 2017, 2018, and 2019. Timothy Eifler, an attorney for Stoll, Keenon and Ogden, which represents Brown-Forman, informed the court of a lawsuit by a subcontractor against the general contractor relating to the 2014 project. Eifler said the subcontractor filed a lien in which the company and county were named, but Brown-Forman would indemnify and defend the county if the case reaches trial. The same arrangement was included in the new deal, he said. Eifler said he believed the suit would be dismissed with respect to Brown-Forman and the county. The unanimous vote in favor of issuing the IRBs came after Eifler's comments. Alcohol sale times The court heard first reading of an ordinance that would allow businesses with liquor licenses in the county to begin serving alcohol by the drink on Sundays at 11 a.m. rather than 1 p.m. At the April 12 meeting, Woodford County Economic Development Authority Chairman John Soper said three businesses asked for the ordinance. Soper said they were concerned about a competitive disadvantage with businesses in Midway and Versailles, which could begin serving drinks at 11 a.m. Treasurer candidate Personnel committee chair Duncan Gardiner announced the nomination of Sabra Garman to be Woodford County Treasurer/Tax Administrator, which the court unanimously endorsed. If she accepts the offer, Garman will be paid an annual salary of $54,700. She would take over from outgoing treasurer Becky Wilson. Gardiner said Garman has an accounting degree from the University of Kentucky, worked in the financial services arena for United Bank and has previously served the county as assistant tax administrator. New Jouett House director Jill Roseberry, 29, was announced as the new executive director of the Jack Jouett House. According to her Linkedin profile, Roseberry was most recently a tour guide at the Wild Turkey Distillery. Her first day of work was April 19. She told the court she'd begun a Twitter account for the historic site and had received a great deal of help from her predecessor, Janice Clark. The court agreed to revise the lease on the caretaker's house, where Roseberry will live, to allow her cat, Jasper, to live there with her. In return, she will pay a $250 security deposit. Roseberry told The Sun that she's lived in Versailles since the age of two.

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