JASPER — The City of Jasper is working to make itself more financially attractive.

At the City Council’s Nov. 18 meeting, City Manager Marcus Collins told the council that the city is moving to become debt free. As part of that effort, the city has now repaid 1/3 of the $1 million USDA loan it took out in the 1990s. The loan had been projected to be paid off by 2032, although the city is working to pay it off sooner.

City Attorney Rhett Bullard told the council and the residents in attendance that there are significant benefits to doing so: cutting down on the amount of interest paid as well as increasing the city’s credit score which makes it more marketable for larger loans and lower interest rates on those loans in the future.

Earlier in the meeting, Collins informed the council that the city had received a $450,000 grant for the paving of Central Avenue and 2nd Avenue, crediting Councilman Gerald Lewis and Bullard for their efforts in securing the grant, which was accepted unanimously by the council.

Lewis later stated he would like for the city to look into possible grant funding for the police department. Lewis said there have been several concerns voiced regarding the police department and he would like to see improvement made if grant funding was possible.

Bullard said there are several options for grant funding, but the usage of the grants depends on what grants are being sought.

Qualifying for next year’s city elections opens at noon Dec. 4 and the qualifying period runs through Jan. 3. The council seats for Districts 2,3 and 4 are up for election on March 3. Darnell Lumpkin, the city’s mayor, currently holds the District 2 seat while Jay Daigle, the council chair, is the District 3 representative. Lewis is the District 4 representative.

Kara M. Compo is a reporter for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press. Her beats include general assignment, government, politics, law enforcement and first responders. ​

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