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County gets first look at building costs, tax impact

By Kayla Kloos

Sun Tribune

The Stevens County Board of Commissioners reviewed preliminary funding information for a jail construction and courthouse renovation project they approved last week.

The county board met in a work session Tuesday to discuss financing for the project with Carolyn Drude, of Ehlers & Associates.

The commissioners set a $15 million cap on a project that will include a 40-bed jail, a new Law Enforcement Center built above the jail, and courthouse renovations and relocations.

Once the project is completed, the county will have space to move Human Services to the courthouse from its current location along Highway 28. The plan also calls for moving Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health's offices to the current Human Services location, then sell the STG offices on Pacific Avenue.

The county also would seek to purchase property west of the existing courthouse, and then work to vacate the avenue in front of the courthouse to create additional parking and a walking plaza leading into the building.

The county has discussed using $4 million from its cash reserves to reduce the amount needed from bond sales. The preliminary options discussed Tuesday consist of issuing $9.5 million in jail bonds and $1.5 million in Capital Investment bonds over 20 years. Considering the options, the projected tax impact for a resident owning a $100,000 home would be $93 per year.

See chart below for more preliminary tax impact amounts.

The increase is fixed with a possibility of a decrease dependent upon the county's overall taxable capacity.

The jail bonds are projected to be sold in 2009, with the first initial interest payment to be around $340,000, which could either come from county reserves or a possible 2009 levy.

Commissioner Herb Kloos requested that a 15-year term be calculated, as well.

A building committee was also formed to solicit and award proposals without board action within the scope of the project.

Board members Larry Sayre and Don Munsterman, and County Coordinator Jim Thoreen, Building Services Director Dave Schmidt and Sheriff Randy Willis also will serve on the committee.

The timeline for the project requires eight months of architectural design, with bid release date of April 1, 2009. Construction could begin as soon as May 2009.