Mt. Vernon Register-News

July 11, 2013

Committee moves on courthouse renovations

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Jefferson County’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday voted to recommend to the full board to implement Phase I of courthouse renovations recommended by M360.

M360 representative Jim Engeman reviewed the county’s commitment to the project, presenting cost estimates. The cost for completion of both Phase I and Phase II projects was placed at $7.62 million. The Phase I cost estimate was placed at $4.66 million.

Engeman explained that Phase I would include keeping the building dry — through roof repairs and window replacement. The remaining upgrades would include a geothermal HVAC system, electrical system upgrade, any abatements that may be present itself during construction, and demolition of the old jail.

County Chairman Robert White said in looking at financing the project, the county has several options, including using money from the one-quarter cent Public Safety Tax. County Treasurer Dan Knox confirmed after the meeting about $1.7 million is currently in that fund. Receiving payments of approximately $85,000 per month (four-month average), the county will receive about $360,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year.

The remainder of the project could be funded through other revenue streams, and White suggested the county sell bonds. He also said he checked with the bonding company that now handles the jail bond issuance, and they have indicated those bonds are “fully collataralized.” White also suggested the county go through a formal bidding process to sell the bonds to get competitive prices.

White added as long as he is county chairman he will make good on a promise made by former County Chairman Ted Buck to not place the jail debt on the backs of property taxpayers.

“If people have concerns, we want to hear from them,” White said. “We’ve got to fix this courthouse and figure out how to do in the most economical way possible.”

A timeline presented by Engeman would provide for a 30-day public comment period before the board takes action on the proposal in September. If it is approved, construction could begin in November, and could be done by the summer of 2014.

Board member Jim Laird voted in opposition to the proposal.

Animal Control Supervisor Martin Boykin updated the Committee on possible expansion of the Jefferson County Animal Shelter. Boykin presented preliminary cost estimates of between $130,000 to $140,000 for a 20 by 40 building. The building would house an additional 16 kennels, with about three animals per kennel, if they are small to medium size.

The county is in negotiations with the city of Salem to take its pets on a per monthly basis, although the City Council in that city wanted less than a three-year contract proposed by county officials.

White said the ultimate goal is not not financially harm the county, and secondly, to consolidate services with other municipalities.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:n The Highway Committee accepted the low fuel bid of $3.21275 for bio-diesel and $2.8867 from Synenergy.

n County Engineer Brandon Simmons announced County Road 1925N, also known as Maple Road in Farrington Township, would be closed Monday and Tuesday and intermittently through the rest of the week for road work.