Jackson County Times

Top Story News

Thursday, December 10, 2009

County Commission Reconsiders Administration Building Construction Project

Exploring financing and construction options

By Sid Riley

At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Jackson County Commission the issue of construction of a new 55,000 sq. ft. County Administration Facility was again brought to the floor for consideration. The original $8,000,000 loan offer from Rural Development has been on hold for a year, awaiting a final decision on the project from the Commission. The county must soon refuse this loan offer so that the funds can be released for other uses. It is that decision which has prompted the reemergence of the possible construction of a new facility.

The land for the proposed site has been purchased, and would include the existing site of the farmers market pavilion, the old jail site, and other adjacent land. The original plans for the project was a multi storied building with a price tag ranging between $14 million for a two story building and $20 million for a three story facility.

From discussions at the meeting it would appear that County Administrator Ted Lakey strongly desires for the project to proceed, and Commissioner Willie Spires is a strong advocate of building a new structure because he perceives a longer useful life for new construction over refurbished existing structures. Commissioners Branch and Lockey are wishing to conduct an evaluation of both approaches, where they can compare the costs, as well as the benefits vs. disadvantages of the two approaches. Commissioners Stephens and Crutchfield appear to be observing and evaluating at this point.

A “Fact Sheet” was distributed to display some of the considerations involved in this issue. These include:

● The county is currently paying $97,000 per year for rental of extra space.

● The county has already set aside $1,185,000 in funds since 2007 for this project.

● The sale of the existing planning building could add as much as $600,000 in funds for this project.

● The county has already spent $227,000 for architectural plans, appraisals, and legal fees related to this project.

● $8.0 million dollars are available in low interest Rural Development financing which can be used for new construction or for renovation work.

● At a 4.125% interest the outflow in payments for this loan would be a net cost of $367,648 per year (after subtracting the savings in existing rent cost)

● Under existing economic conditions, lower construction costs and lower financing costs might be available.

This proposed construction was initially opposed due to the belief that constructing this facility at the planned location would compound an already serious public parking problem which exists in the area of the County Court House. Additionally, some felt it unwise and wasteful to spend public money on new construction when several large commercial buildings are sitting vacant in the area. These could supposedly be purchased and renovated at a significantly less cost per square foot, and site preparation and parking issues would be resolved.

The commissioners requested that the project engineering firm prepare a cost comparison of renovation vs. new construction. They were also asked to base these comparisons on updated cost calculations. These may be ready by the January meeting of the Board.

No comments:

Post a Comment