Bond Vote Coming

April 6, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — County commissioners will likely give the green light this week to a bond package that will make five improvements to the Fuller Avenue Campus and build a new courthouse for the 63rd District Court.

The capital improvement bonds will total at least $15 million and perhaps as much as $22 million. The county expects to pay 4.2 percent per year on the 20-year securities, using general revenues to do so. Kent plans to issue a notice of intent next week, price the bonds in July and close on the package in August.

"We will be going to the writing agency next week," said Daryl Delabbio, KentCounty administrator and controller.

The Fuller campus upgrades will total $12 million. The projects have been in the works since 2004, when the county developed a master plan for the site on the city's northeast side.

The work includes building a new animal shelter for $4.6 million; a new energy center for the Spectrum Health building for $3.75 million; and a new boiler for the Health Department for $750,000. Renovation to the Fleet Service facility ($1.8 million) and entrance and roadway improvements to the campus ($1.75 million) are also included in the project.

But the total cost could rise by $4.8 million if network180 decides to remodel its building on the campus and add another 27,000 square feet to it. The agency would pay the county for its share of the bonds through its lease with Kent

"The network180 piece of it might be in or might not be in," said Richard Vander Molen, commission vice chairman and chairman of the Finance Committee.

The new courthouse will go up on six acres of property along the East Beltline, just north of

Four Mile Road
. The building will be about 40,000 square feet, cost $6 million to build, and consolidate the court's two current locations under a single roof.

All the projects, including the one for network180, will cost about $23 million. The county will spend $3.5 million from its capital improvements fund and bond for the rest, whatever the final tally might be.

Commissioners will also decide this week whether to make Triangle Associates the firm that manages construction on the Fuller campus. If they do, the county will pay Triangle $813,163 to direct the bid process and oversee the work. About $320,000 of that amount will be spent on building permits, site preparation and other routine, but necessary, tasks.

"We felt the county would be best served with one construction manager," said Robert Mihos, KentCounty facilities management director. "We will have a one-year warranty on everything, and the construction manager will be responsible for repairs."

Kent County Fiscal Services Director Robert White said the county could handle the additional debt load the bonds will create, as its ratio of debt to taxable value is well below the limit established by the state. At the beginning of the year, the county's debt service was $353 million, or less than 2 percent of the allowable limit, which is 10 percent.    

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