According to City of Aiken Finance Director Kim Abney, with the payment of $1,030,123.50 on December 1, the City of Aiken is debt free.
When asked if it is common for cities the size of Aiken or larger in South Carolina to be operating without outside debt, Reba Hull Campbell, deputy executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina, said her group doesn’t track that information, but she offered that, “I think it is safe to say that very few cities can claim to be debt free.”
In fact, Ms. Campbell seemed somewhat surprised and asked if that meant that Aiken is no longer serving any General Obligation bonds. Interim City Manager Roger LeDuc answered her saying that Aiken paid off its last General Obligation Bond in 2003 and this December payment satisfied its last Utility Bond in 2014.
Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said he is very pleased that the City has earned debt free status and said it reflects the philosophy and dedication of City staff and Council over the years. “We try to work within our means, and now that we have achieved it, debt free is a great place to be.”
Director Abney said the only debt service remaining is an inter-fund loan in which the city loaned itself the money to build the new water plant on Silver Bluff Road, which just went online in January, 2015.
About reaching the City’s debt free status, Mayor Cavanaugh said, “Being fiscally solvent enough to finance projects in-house without having to go to the lending market to take out loans and pay interest is a tremendous advantage in the operations of any government, or business or family for that matter.”