Joseph Robertson

Richland County commissioners meet Tuesday morning with Joseph Robertson (center), managing director of Hilltop Securities. Bart Hamilton (right), the county treasurer, also attended the session.

MANSFIELD -- Richland County could save $300,000 by refunding some long-term bonds and replacing them with lower-interest notes.

That was the recommendation county commissioners heard Tuesday morning from Joseph Robertson, managing director of Hilltop Securities.

Those estimated savings could be even greater if the Federal Reserve Board again lowers interest rates when it meets at the end of July, according to Robertson.

His company, the nation's second-largest financial advisory firm, handles the underwriting on the county's debt.

Interest rates have consistently fallen during the last decade and Robertson said many governmental entities have achieved savings by refunding bonds issued at higher rates of interest and replacing them at lower rates.

"It's market-driven," he told commissioners.

Robertson discussed with commissioners refunding bonds issued in 2011 and 2013, most of which went to pay for improvements to local correctional facilities. The interest rates on those were as high as 4 percent.

He said an interest rate of 2.869 was now available on new notes, though the actual rate would be determined when the bonds were sold.

The county would have to go through a "rating call" process to determine its financial stability, though its most recent rating for long-term bonds was A+, as determined by Standard & Poor's, Robertson said.

The debt, estimated at around $6 million, could be sold off publicly and/or internally, according to Robertson. Richland County Treasurer Bart Hamilton attended the meeting and said his office might be interested in purchasing some segment of the bonds.

Commissioners were receptive to the plan and will bring Robertson back in a couple of weeks to flesh out details.

Also on Tuesday morning, county commissioners:

-- Approved an incentive contest to encourage employees on the county's insurance plan to complete the wellness program. An estimated 53 percent of eligible employees completed it last year, which is among the best in counties participating in the County Employee Benefits Consortium of Ohio.

In the contest, one employee from those who complete the points-based program by Aug. 15 will be selected randomly to have six months of their insurance contribution paid by the county. The winner will be selected in October and the award would begin in November.

-- Approved a request from building security to remove the inner front vestibule doors at the courthouse. The doors represent a tripping hazard and serve no purpose with the current security arrangement at the front of the building.

-- Approved several contracts on behalf of Richland County Job & Family Services and the Youth & Family Council to provide a variety of services to local residents.

-- Met in executive session to discuss hiring in the wastewater department. Commissioners took no action after the executive session.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"