- Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 00:00
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The Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors has directed County Administrator Norm Risavi to file an application with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development for $9,123,040 in financing to support construction of the new judicial complex that the county plans to build.
“Rural Development is holding the largest appropriation in recent memory and the we need to get in line with an application,” County Administrator Norm Risavi told the Board of supervisors on Jan. 9. “The application won’t formally commit us to anything, but right now the interest is only 3.75 percent and we need to get in line.”
“I’d live to get on that list,” the Board’s Vice Chairman Woody Hynson said. A unanimous vote immediately followed directing Risavi to prepare and submit the loan application. Rural Development previously financed the county’s sewer projects with a combination of low interest
loans and grants. No grant is available to fund the proposed judicial complex.
In December 2011 the Westmoreland Supervisors approved a revised design and delivered a vote authorizing dBF Associates Architects to proceed with preparation of a two-story judicial complex project’s bid documents and specifications. A previously contemplated three-story structure of 43,600 square feet was scaled back to a two-story structure with 39,800 square feet of interior space.
The projected cost per square foot ranged from $160 to $250 and the Supervisors surmised that the structure’s downwardly revised layout would generate savings of $600,000 to $1,000,000.
“After having several security assessments completed by the late Sheriff Buddy Jackson and current Sheriff C. O. Balderson, it became apparent with the increasing caseload of our three courts that non-compliance with current courthouse facility guidelines was seriously compromising security,” Risavi advised.
In 2006 the county engaged dBF Associates Architects to complete a space requirements study and begin work on a design that would serve the needs of the law enforcement community and local government departments.
The courts and county government departments currently share the George D. English Building whose square footage totals 24,476. The new facility will be sited immediately adjacent to that structure. County government offices will remain in the English Building, with the new facility housing the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Dispatch Center, the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the courts.
Operating with the expectation that contractor bid proposals will be returned in March 2012 and Rural Development interest rates at the previously referenced level but subject to change at quarterly intervals, Risavi addressed the economics associated with proceeding at this time.
“Although the recession has negatively impacted the economy, it has resulted in a very competitive bidding environment for the costs of projects and some very attractive interest rates,” he told the members of the Board.
“The county has seen a cost savings on the Washington District Phase 2 sewer project ranging from 50 percent to 200 percent on various aspects of the project.”
“Various public projects around the Commonwealth are attracting significantly more bidders than the pre-recession time period.” Risavi additionally made it known that no fewer than 15 construction firms have expressed an interest in bidding on the project.
Aware of the need to build the new facility, the county government set aside funding to pay for the project’s professional costs and placed $1,726,113 in a special account that will help with the debt service payments. The total project cost will not be known until bids are returned and financing is in place later this year.