Commissioners at odds over courthouse repairs and more

Times Observer file photo Although Warren County Commissioners settled on funding plans for courthouse repairs at Wednesday’s meeting, the recent rain drew attention to active leaks on the roof and exterior that are not addressed in the chosen “base option”.

Last month, the Warren County Commissioners in a split decision signed off on multi-million dollar slate of repairs to the Warren County Courthouse.

The funding would include $1.4 million in guaranteed energy savings as well as $3.7 million financed by the county.

The commissioners settled on a funding option during Wednesday’s meeting.

The firm ABM is guaranteeing approximately $2.4 million in savings over the next 15 years. That’s the funding the commissioners would utilize to fund the courthouse improvements.

Two options were presented – a comprehensive option and a base option.

The “comprehensive option” – at a total cost of $5,693,019 – would have replace the county’s HVAC systems, implement new jail cell doors, include a comprehensive restoration of the exterior of the courthouse, elevator repair/replacement at the courthouse and jail, restoration of the 911 Center on Rouse Estate property, increase security at the Hickory St. Annex as well as a host of other items – jail kitchen ventilation, record storage improvement, warehouse roof replacement, comprehensive building automation system replacement, county-wide HVAC cold plasma ionization, courthouse steam trap repair, LED lighting retrofit, water conservation work and plug load control work.

The “base option” – at a projected cost of $3,755,117 – doesn’t include building automation system, removes the slate roof repair and replacement, exterior woodwork and white work and masonry repair would not be included.” Repairs to the south steps at the courthouse and a roof replacement at the warehouse in Starbrick also are not included.

The commissioners – in a 2-1 vote with Commissioner Cindy Morrison in opposition – elected the base option last month.

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said the financing piece probably didn’t have to come back before the board but – in a 2-1 vote with Morrison in opposition – a 3.63 percent interest rate agreement for $3.7 million was approved from the First Internet Public Finance Corporation.

All those repairs, however, don’t address concerns of a leaky roof and the walls of the original 19th-century courthouse.

Kafferlin drew attention to those issues on Wednesday in the wake of the rain the area received this week.

Wednesday’s meeting was held in the Main Courtroom.

He said there are “multiple new leaks” and “there is leaking going on right above our head in this very room that is not getting fixed through this ABM proposal.”

He described “active rot” and said the situation is “something we need to take seriously.

“This building is decaying around us because previous boards didn’t deal with the problem.”