Commissioners approve bonds for projects
Lorain County commissioners approved the issuance of bonds to fund two projects during their Feb. 14 meeting.
Renovations and equipment in the new 911 call center on Burns Road in Elyria will be paid for by the issuance of sales tax receipt bonds of up to $2.5 million.
County Administrator James Cordes said he may not do anything with the resolution allowing the bonds to be issued immediately.
The county already has financed some equipment for the facility for 10 years, but Cordes said he wants to tie that financing with the renovations for 20 years, with callable options in order to keep the county flexible.
Cordes has been vocal about the need for renovations to the call center and the county’s desire to outfit the facility with the latest technology.
The county can finance these things, but not the operations of the facility, he said.
For that reason, Cordes said he would like to keep the county “cash rich,” so that funds needed for the renovations and equipment doesn’t endanger the operation of the facility.
Cordes said if the county were to borrow the funds against the property it already owns, the property would lose its tax-exempt status, whereas the process he’s proposing may avoid that.
“That’s what I’m looking at right now, and I’ve got a lot of bond people looking through the tax code,” he said.
“And I’m almost positive, I’m right, but they’re the ones that have to issue the qualification letter for us to do that.”
If Cordes’ plan is approved, new legislation will be presented to reflect it.
The commissioners also approved the issuance of bonds up to $5 million to fund the renovation of the Lorain County Transportation Center, 40 East Ave. in Elyria, to allow stops by passenger Amtrak trains.
Cordes told commissioners the Federal Transit Administration would repay the funds if the county “stays on track and meet (their) commitments.”
The bonds will supply the county with cash on hand in order to put the project out for bid next week.
Cordes said the Federal Transit Administration requires the projects must be awarded by the third week in March.
“We have to have cash to be able to award contracts,” he said.
Cordes told commissioners he expects the project to cost $9 million to $10 million, but the project still is in it’s early stages.
The bid documents that are expected next week and must be awarded in March are only for the pre-cast concrete components of the project.
Commissioner Lori Kokoski asked whether the county intended to spend the full $5 million in bonds citing her concerns the Federal Transit Administration may not reimburse the funds.
Cordes said the funds will be paid out incrementally, but the county already has funded money to architects and engineers working on the planning for the project.
“We’re going to get done,” Cordes said.
Also, the commissioners authorized Cordes to refinance $12.75 million in debt for the Lorain County Justice Center, 225 Court St. in Elyria.
Cordes said the county refinanced the debt about five or six years ago and saved about $1.8 million in interest.
He said the county could possibly save between $600,000 and $700,000. it