Com­mis­sion­ers ap­prove bonds for projects

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Keith Reynolds

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

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