McLean Fiscal Court is ready to move forward with a $2.5 million courthouse project.
The county is looking to promote energy efficiency and take care of some housekeeping items that have been in the works for some time.
McLean Fiscal Court entered into an professional services contract with Perfection Group, a custom-designed service solutions company based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Sept. 9 fiscal court meeting for improvements on the courthouse, the sheriff’s office, and the health department building.
Perfection Group’s work includes preventive maintenance for HVAC systems, general facility maintenance and HVAC retro-commissioning and repair. The scope of the work planned includes LED lighting upgrades, HVAC upgrades, and roofing repairs to all three buildings.
“We bid the project in January of 2020,” said Judge-Executive Curtis Dame said. “It’s taken this long to get to this point. We had to do a walk-through, count every bulb and all that. Basically, what we’ve had (Perfection Group) do was rank the facilities … on what is in really good shape and what is in really bad shape.”
The courthouse will see the most construction, where all 54 windows will be replaced along with masonry upgrades, painting, fire alarm system upgrades, and the installation of a new cupola dome.
“It’s basically going to be a really fancy radio antenna,” Dame said. “It’s going to be a dome but it’s going to have integrated communication 911 equipment in it. That was the big talk, that’s what we were discussing. I wasn’t willing to do it if we couldn’t integrate it into the 911 service. Right now, we have issues when we get bad weather; it’ll blow our point-to-point communication equipment offline. You get a degradation in signal. That’s one way to solve (this) problem.”
Dame hopes that this helps with improving service redundancy and simply getting the courthouse up-to-date physically.
“It’s part of a larger effort to make sure that our 911 server is redundant,” Dame said. “We’re going to get rid of all the exterior wires and this place really just needs a facelift.”
One of the other items that Dame is excited about is the attic insulation and bat abatement, where Perfection will vacuum all infected areas, apply an anti-microbial agent, install negative air fans, and seal all identified entry points.
Dame said the bat issue has been persistent since 2004.
“I’m ready to put this item of business to bed,” Dame said. “And to protect the workplace environment for our employees.”
The cost of the courthouse is projected to be $1,341,595 while the entire project is to cost an estimated $2,550,781.
Dame said this is trimmed down from the original price of $3,247,887. The sheriff’s office and health department building is expected to cost $228,605 and $250,891 respectively. Dame said it’s his responsibility to make sure that all county buildings are taken care of, as per KRS 67.080 — “cause the construction, operation, and maintenance of all county buildings and other structures, grounds, roads and other property.”
Dame said that the county will be using special project cofunds to help fund this project and taking advantage of interest rates currently before they see an increase.
“I’ve talked to Senator (Matt) Castlen and Representative (Jim) Gooch to get their concurrency, which is basically their agreeing that the project needs to be done,” Dame said. “So, we will take the $500,000 of remaining cofunds, pay down the existing county debt. That’s what we’re planning to do. We haven’t officially made that decision yet. The goal would be to pay all the high interest loans, because we’re looking at 2.38% guaranteed financing for 20 years. What I can see, … interest rates are gonna go up. So, why not do this now when it’s the cheapest it’ll ever be, when interest rates are at such a low level?”
Dame said that he is currently searching for additional grants to apply for that may help funding.
“I’ve actually been in talks and have looked at a program through the Kentucky Heritage Council,” Dame said. “That’s to help us for bonding for the cupola portion and further improvements and … saving the exterior structure.”
Dame said that the health department is interested in paying for their portion of the project, alleviating about 57% of the $250,891, based on the square footage that the department uses.
“(The health department’s) square footage, they’re gonna help with that,” Dame said. “They rent the facility from the county at no cost to the health department and what that has done has allowed us to do is to keep the tax rate for the health department essentially lower than other counties because we provide the building…”
Perfection has worked with other places on similar projects, such as Anderson County for $1,671,060, the city of Glasgow for $2,702,120, and Madison County for $7,058,400.
Dame emphasizes that this is not just an ordinary construction project and currently projects saving $266,483 in utility savings, $14,667 in non-measured utility savings, and $147,649 in operational savings. The project will also include a 20-year warranty on all work that is to be completed.
“This is an energy efficiency program,” Dame said. “This is a unique program to be able to afford to fix our facilities in a way that doesn’t hinder other programs. We’re going to have a sustainable amount of savings. There’s an elevator clause … where our savings could be more.”
Dame is also looking at how the physical manual labor will benefit the county.
“The key takeaway … is the economic development impact,” Dame said. “(We’re) gonna have 40 to 80 skilled laborers and tradesmen here that will buy local. Some of them will stay local in the inns and beds and breakfasts that we have. They’ll buy supplies here (locally). It will have an economic impact for about eight to nine months.”
The agreement is awaiting the approval of the county attorney before any construction can begin. If approved, construction on all facilities is to start as early as November.
“It’s a big project,” Dame said. “But I think it’s one that’s years overdue. It’s time the court took care of the people’s house.”
Freddie Bourne, firstname.lastname@example.org