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County continues work on CIP bond proposal

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners spent the better part of a three-hour work session Wednesday talking about proposed bonding to finance an array of items listed on the county's capital improvement plan.

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County commissioners spent the better part of a three-hour work session Wednesday talking about proposed bonding to finance an array of items listed on the county’s capital improvement plan.

At the start of the meeting, the list identified projects totaling more than $6.98 million, but as commissioners worked through each line, alterations were made to some estimates and two projects completely removed from the list. In the end, they had whittled more than half a million dollars from the total bond amount to reach $6.42 million.

The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the projects identified and the amount of bonding proposed during a 7 p.m. hearing Jan. 5 in the Farmer’s Room of the Nobles County Government Center.

A 30-day comment period begins after the hearing, with commissioners slated to decide on whether to commit to bonding and, if so, the final dollar amount, at their Feb. 7 board meeting. That timeline would allow for the county to take public comment at its Jan. 24 board meeting, noted County Administrator Tom Johnson.

The county’s bond counsel, George Eilertson of Northland Securities, said Wednesday that interest rates on bonds have risen since the board first began discussing CIP bonding several months ago.

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“Interest rates at the time we had some of these scheduled was lower,” Eilertson said, adding that if Nobles County moves forward with bonding, the sale will be conducted in March. What interest rates will be at that time remains to be seen.

At this time, the amount of the bonds being proposed is slated to have no new tax impact to the taxpayers of Nobles County. Revenues from the wind energy production tax will be directed to pay off the debt service at least through 2020, when the county’s first bond for Prairie Justice Center is slated to be paid off.

Following Eilertson’s presentation of information, commissioners went through the Capital Improvement Plan list line by line to weigh in on the projects identified.

The list includes:

  1. Reception area improvements for Nobles County Community Services, including the creation of two service windows in an area currently used as a hallway. Commissioners were in unanimous agreement to complete this project.

  2. Foundation waterproofing at the Government Center. This was slated to be done in phases on the CIP, but commissioners want to see the waterproofing done around the entire building at once. In conjunction with the waterproofing are planned improvements to the building’s 10th Street access and landscaping.

  3. Adrian Branch Library remodel.

  4. Replacement of chiller units, windows and formica surfaces inside Prairie Justice Center, along with exterior building repairs.

  5. Construction of a security booth inside PJC.

  6. Expansion of the Adrian Shop, to include an office area and restrooms. This was initially estimated at $500,000, but was increased to $600,000 on Wednesday because of the office/restroom space.

“It’s been talked about and talked about and talked about - it’s time to check it off,” said Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr.
7. Replacement of the entire roof membrane on PJC, or consider a built-up roof on the building.

8. Addition of a backup generator to operate the fueling system, overhead doors and emergency systems during a power outage at the county’s Public Works facility on Diagonal Road.

9. Construction the addition to the PJC garage. The city of Worthington will help finance this project. The addition is estimated at $1.3 million.

“Six years ago this figure was $750,000,” said Demuth Jr. “I think we better pull the trigger pretty quick.”
10. Construction of a new access road to PJC.

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11. Replacement of the roof over the old shop and office areas at the Public Works facility.

12. Finding a solution for the cold storage facility needs at PJC. Initially estimated at $720,000, commissioners cut the dollar amount to $250,000, and suggested finding alternatives to constructing a building on the PJC site.

Removed from the list were replacement/upgrade of the generator set at the Government Center and replacement of the fuel tank and related landscaping at the Government Center.

Johnson said he had started a list of other items that could be done with CIP bonding, such as putting asphalt over an existing gravel parking lot used by Government Center employees, installing a high efficiency boiler at the PJC (the existing boilers are still in good working order), and pursuing discussions once again with the city of Worthington on a potential city-county highway shop. Johnson said he has been contacted by landowners on three different locations that could be possible sites for such an endeavor.

“I think we need to concentrate on what we have to do,” replied Commissioner Gene Metz to the added options. “In five or 10 years we might have another whole list of projects.”

In other discussions, the board:

  • Discussed legislative priorities and opted to keep the same list as was presented in 2016, with one addition. The top priority remains securing funding for the completion of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System to Worthington. Additional priorities include roads/bridges, broadband, housing, education and - newly added - health care.

  • Reviewed 2017 committee appointments, appointing new District 1 County Commissioner Justin Ahlers to some of the committees vacated by out-going Commissioner Marv Zylstra and changing some of the delegates and alternates for various committees.

  • Discussed the 2017 calendar of board meetings and work sessions. Commissioners plan to continue meeting in a work session once per month.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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