Dickinson County

Resolutions authorizing the sale of bonds to finance building a new Dickinson County Jail and renovating the courthouse were approved Thursday.

The Dickinson County Public Building Commission (PBC) approved a resolution to issue $13.5 million in Kansas Public Building Commission Revenue Bonds “authorizing the execution, delivery and sale of said bonds.”

The project is a long time coming. Commissioners first began talking about the need for a new jail back in 2013. In 2014 they budgeted two mills to start generating funds to be set aside until it was time to build.

In 2017, voters said no to a more expensive proposal that would have built a Justice Center. But this past Aug. 7, Dickinson County voters approved the $13.5 million bond issue to build a new jail and renovate the courthouse.

What is the PBC?

The county’s Public Building Commission met prior to the regular commission meeting Thursday. The PBC includes the three county commissioners, Craig Chamberlin, Lynn Peterson and LaVerne Myers and four Dickinson County residents who represent different areas of the county.

Besides the commissioners, PBC members Kimmy Phillips from the Holland area and James Hedstrom from the Chapman area were in attendance.

Not attending were Kyle McCook, who represents the Solomon area, and Gabrielle Simmons from the Herington area.

“Today’s meeting may seem a little insignificant, but it’s anything but,” County Administrator Brad Homman told the PBC. “The resolution you have in your packet is the actual kickoff that starts the process to issue $13.5 million in bonds for the jail project.

“It also authorizes the chairman of the county commission and myself to execute some of the other paperwork so we don’t have to call a meeting like this every week,” Homman added.

The PBC is a group of citizens appointed by the commission, authorized by statute, to issue bonds for a building project allowing the commission to construct or renovate a building. The PBC becomes the owner of the project and building and the county lease-purchases it from the PBC.

An advantage of using the PBC as a funding mechanism means it doesn’t go against the county’s debt limit and doesn’t show up as county debt.

The Dickinson County PBC was created in 2008 to fund construction of the Abilene EMS Department’s addition on the south side of the health department.

Lock in rate

During the regular meeting, the three commissioners approved a resolution that creates the “base lease between the PBC and the county for the jail project,” Homman said, explaining it is a “legal requirement to be able to proceed with the bond sale.

“Our goal is to get these issued as rapidly as possible so we can get the interest rate locked in as soon as we can,” he added.

Myers asked Homman if he knew how many years it would take before the county could make larger payments in an effort to pay off the bonds early.

Homman said he and County Finance Director Janelle Dockendorf had told the financial advisors at Piper-Jaffray that was an option the county wants, however, specific details of the agreement still need to be worked out.

“The minimum is probably seven to 10 years depending on how things come together,” Homman said. “We will have that option. If revenues are up and we have extra money we can make some bigger payments each year and pay it off if there’s no prepay penalty.”

“You’d save quite a bit on interest if you get it paid off,” Myers said.

Project prep

underway

Homman said he and Architect Larry Goldberg of Goldberg Group Architects have put together RFPs (Request for Proposals) for an ALTA land survey and a hazardous materials survey.

The ALTA (American Land Title Association) survey will ensure no hazardous material or other debris is located underground at the jail construction site east of the courthouse.

The hazardous material survey needs to be conducted in the courthouse since it’s likely it has materials like asbestos — a building material commonly used 62-years ago when the courthouse was built that now is known to cause respiratory problems.

In an unrelated matter, Homman and Dockendorf will be visiting with representatives from Standard & Poor’s, a leading source of credit ratings, to determine the county’s credit rating. That rating is needed before bonds can be issued.

Also, a three-day detention equipment workshop has been scheduled for the first week in October. The workshop will include Goldberg and his staff and vendors of detention (jail) equipment to decide what is needed in the new jail as far as hardware and electronics.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

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