As the deadline to raise the U.S. debt ceiling approaches, Congressional leaders aren't the only ones holding their breath.
Beaufort County Council has discussed borrowing money in the near future, and the county staff is planning those debt proposals.
But if the nation's credit limit isn't raised by Aug. 2, when the U.S. Treasury Department says its authority to borrow will run out, will investors flee the bond markets? Will interest rates spike?
"I guess we'll find out on Tuesday," said county CFO David Starkey. "Stay tuned. I'm certainly going to."
Never miss a local story.
Brian Nurick, managing director of public finance for Ross Sinclaire & Associates, which serves as Beaufort County's bond counsel, said he doesn't foresee "doomsday" scenarios for the county.
"There are other political units in South Carolina that issue debt that are highly dependent on federal revenue," Nurick said. "Beaufort County is not, and that's a credit positive."
So far, he said, the municipal bond market has been fairly steady.
But if Congressional stalemate persists, interest rates could rise, Nurick said. And if the U.S. begins missing debt payments entirely, there could be "collateral damage" on other markets.
"If I knew exactly what would happen, I'd probably be on a tropical island," Nurick said.
The county debt being considered falls into several categories.
Voters approved $50 million of debt for land preservation in 2006, and $10 million of that has not yet been borrowed.
If interest rates are favorable, the county could borrow money to refinance 2003 bonds that have a 20-year term but are redeemable after 10 years.
County Council also has discussed short-term borrowing to ensure the county has enough money if a hurricane strikes. Peak hurricane season is immediately before annual property tax revenue comes in -- when county coffers are at their emptiest.
Whichever options council chooses, Starkey said the county will probably finance them at the same time to save on borrowing fees.
Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.