Kent Hikes Upgrade Spending

July 31, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — If commissioners agree this fall, KentCounty will spend nearly $22 million next year on capital improvements.

Of the $21.77 million in spending recently approved by the countyFinance Committee, $19.5 million of that total falls within the domain of the facilities management department. And nearly all of that amount, almost $18.7 million, will be spent on five new construction projects.

The costliest is for a new courthouse that would allow the county to consolidate the 63rd District Court from its current locations in Rockford and CascadeTownship. The $6 million project will put up a building on six acres of land that the county bought last year for slightly more than $1 million on the East Beltline near

Four Mile Road

The catalyst for the project is the cramped condition the northern division of the court has at 105 Maple in Rockford, a site that doesn't have room for expansion. The county owns that building and is looking to sell it. Kent leases space for the court in CascadeTownship. A new courthouse on the Beltline would be located in the center of the court's district.

The four other construction projects would be built on the

Fuller Avenue
campus on the city's northeast side. A new animal shelter and a new boiler plant would cost $4.6 million and $4.5 million, respectively. A new facility to service county-owned vehicles would cost $1.8 million, and road improvements to the campus would cost $1.75 million.

The list also includes making $200,000 worth of security improvements to the office building at

82 Ionia Ave. NW
, where the prosecutor's office and other court-related services are housed.

Another $966,359 is on the list for various upgrades to the county's IT system, including a consolidation of the network infrastructure that will improve security and provide enough bandwidth for the future. The consolidation will cost nearly $550,000.

CountyFiscal Services Director Robert White recommended that the county pay for the improvements with $4 million from an account that contains property-tax revenue, with $5.7 million from fund reserves, and with $12 million from a 20-year municipal bond package.

The $21.7 million in capital improvements for next year certainly dwarfs the $3.8 million the county is spending on upgrades this year. The current list will be included as part of the 2007 fiscal year budget that will come back to the Finance Committee on Sept. 19 and go before the full commission on Sept. 22. The county's new fiscal year begins on Jan. 1. 

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