VERSAILLES — Woodford Fiscal Court heard more details Tuesday about a request to issue a municipal bond for improvement of utilities to the long-closed Old Taylor Distillery near Millville.
The magistrates asked questions but made no commitments. The matter will be on the agenda for the fiscal court's next meeting, but "it's not going to be ready until the terms are deemed satisfactory to the court," County Attorney Alan George said.
Distillery owners Wes Murry and Will Arvin made their initial appeal to the fiscal court in December for $990,000 in assistance for improvements to water, gas and electric utilities. Murry and Arvin plan to renovate the historic site and open it for tourism, events, and food and beverage services, as well as production of bourbon and other spirits.
Murry said Tuesday the cost of those utility improvements would be closer to $850,000. The bond would pay for replacement of a coal-fired heating system with a natural-gas system and the extension of a gas line, doubling the size of a water line for fire suppression, and replacement of electrical lines and transformers on the property.
Improvements such as the gas-line extension and the bigger water line would help other county residents in the Millville area. Financing through the county would mean a longer repayment term and tax-free interest to bond holders.
There was some polite disagreement about whether there is risk to county government should the project fail or default. Magistrate Duncan Gardiner said, "If anything goes wrong, we will be on the hook for that." But Murry insisted, "The county has no risk here."
"You say it's risk-free, but I'm not 100 percent in agreement with that," Gardiner said later.
Representatives of the Kentucky Distillers Association and Woodford County Economic Development Authority spoke in favor of the project, as did Billy Van Pelt, executive director of Woodford Forward, an organization that was formed last year to promote innovative development and redevelopment.
Murry said the project has the potential to generate $175,000 to $190,000 a year in barrel taxes by storing bourbon made there and elsewhere, and it could generate $22,500 a year in payroll taxes for Woodford County, he said.
The distillery closed in 1972 after Jim Beam bought it from National Distillers.