Payne County will provide short-term, pass through financing for The Ranch, a retirement community affiliated with the Oklahoma State University Emeriti and Alumni associations.

Developer Epworth Living cleared the last hurdle Monday when Payne County's commissioners voted to issue tax-exempt bond anticipation notes that will refinance up to $12 million in startup costs while the community makes its final marketing push.

About 75 units have been reserved with down payments but the developer needs 21 more commitments to secure permanent financing and break ground. Epworth representatives estimated that could take approximately six more months.

The county financing isn't intended to last more than one year.

Although The Ranch continuing care community was originally envisioned by retired OSU faculty, it is open to the general public.

The complex will serve adults age 62 or older. Its 150-units include apartments and single-family cottages as well as skilled nursing, memory care and long-term care units.

“It's a home for life,” Epworth CEO and President John Harned told the county commissioners at their Nov. 25 meeting.

Epworth Living officials and bond counsel Hal Ellis held a hearing Friday as required by the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act to gather  public input on the matter.

Stillwater resident Marielle Damicone asked if resources that could benefit county residents by paving or maintaining roads were instead benefiting a business enterprise.

“I'm concerned about spending public money on a private developer,” she said.

Ellis told her this type of financing allows nonprofits which are believed to have less access to capital markets, to get tax-exempt financing. The county isn't incurring any liability and the notes will be paid by the developer, he said.

“There are no public dollars in this,” Ellis said. “There is no tax money in this.”

The Ranch will benefit Payne County because it pays property tax on its 55-acre site, pays sales tax for items purchased and its 140 eventual employees will pay income tax, said Epworth Villa Vice President of Advancement Joe Haney.

Ron Beer, a member of the Emeriti Association who plans to reside at The Ranch said it will prevent a lot of people from leaving Stillwater after retirement.

“They shop, buy gas, buy food and they have no children in the school district,” he said. “There is value in retaining people who would otherwise move away.”

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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