Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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June 9, 2014

County studies issuing restoration bonds

Corsicana — The Navarro County Courthouse came one small step closer to its renovation project Monday when the commissioners court met in regular session.

On Monday, the commissioners gave tentative approval for a bond sale deal with Capital One. The bank is offering an interest rate of 3.7 percent for 20 years. The commissioners had been hoping for 21 years, but this was the only fixed rate deal that came close.

With the lower rate, the county might be able to make the payments on the bonds without raising tax rates, and if appraisal values are up just a bit, it will cover it, said Kathy Hollomon, county auditor.

“The new scenario, with 3.7 percent, brings us very close to the 2 cents,” she said. “If we have any growth at all to the valuations it may cover it entirely.”

The final contract won’t be voted on until the June 23 meeting.

In the meantime, the work on the exterior of the courthouse has already begun. That work is being paid for from loans from the general fund, according to Hollomon.

The renovation of the courthouse has a lot of moving parts, one of which is the purchase and renovation of the Corsicana ISD administration building and the former Austin school house, which the county is under contract to buy. That deal is supposed to close on June 15.

Renovating the buildings to make them into a permanent courthouse annex for the tax office and probation departments still requires some construction work, and yet another contract.

A change order on the deal to renovate the Austin school building was also on the agenda, but the commissioners didn’t take any action on it. They’re still in negotiations with the contractor, said County Judge H.M. Davenport.

Another of those moving parts is having the courts and support offices move over to the former Navarro Mall, now called the Navarro Centre. On Monday, the commissioners hired Lochridge Priest to assess the air conditioners in the mall. The lease agreement that’s been offered to the county states that air conditioning and heat are the responsibility of the tenant, not the mall’s owner.

The county hasn’t signed the lease yet, and wants to know the status of the equipment before doing so, Davenport said.

“We’re still doing due diligence,” he said.

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