Committee Picks County Projects For Next Year

August 11, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Capital Improvement Committee has selected 18 projects to either be started or done next year. The 18 that made the cut came from a list of 49 requests submitted by department heads.

It will cost the county $4.55 million in capital improvement program funds to follow through on 16 of the projects, as two don’t require money from the CIP account. County commissioners will review and approve the projects list and then appropriate the funds from the CIP budget this fall.

The county sets aside two-tenths of a mill of its property-tax revenue for improvements, an amount that has been projected to total $4.34 million. Another $250,000 for the work is expected to come from project close-outs with $34,000 more to be drawn from the fund’s reserve account, which is CIP money that is left over from previous years.

Topping the list is a remodeling of the kitchen, dining and support areas in the Juvenile Detention Center. Committee members gave the project the top spot because they said a remake of those sectors would help diminish much of the “volatile atmosphere” that exists between staff and residents.

CIP funds would pay for the project’s planning and design, estimated at $170,000, while bond revenue totaling $2.43 million would cover the rest of the project. The planning stage would be done next year, with the remodeling coming in 2010.

Nearly $1.4 million in CIP funds would go to the new 63rd District courthouse the county hopes to begin building in the fall. Those dollars would cover additional engineering charges the county incurred at the courthouse site, a former apple orchard it bought from Grand Rapids Township. The money would also be used to buy a geothermal heating and cooling system and to pay for the county’s application to the U.S. Green Building Council to receive LEED certification for the building.

Almost $1.2 million would be appropriated to make improvements at the county’s Fuller Avenue Campus on the northeast side of Grand Rapids. That project includes a new animal shelter, boiler plant and upgrades to the campus roadway. Another project would replace the skylight at 82 Ionia Ave. NW, an office building the county owns. Replacing the skylight will cost the county $120,000.

The two projects on the list that don’t require CIP funds are the renovation of the Kent County Jail and a computer interface between the sheriff’s department and an FBI database. Funding for the interface will come from a grant. The jail renovation, which will replace two older sections of the lock-up, will be paid through bond proceeds.

It would have cost the county $17.7 million for all 49 of the projects.

A seven-member committee ranked the projects using a point scale. The most points were awarded to projects that were health and safety related, and that were cost effective for the county. The CIP budget will become part of the county’s 2009 budget.

“No ratings scale is perfect,” said Robert White, fiscal services director and committee member. “The points scale put the project in an order.”

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