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Courthouse is going nowhere

News editor

Responding to constituent concerns they claimed resulted from a Marion County Record headline July 23, county commissioners reaffirmed Monday that the county courthouse will remain in Marion.

“I need to straighten something out,” Commissioner Dan Holub said. “When you guys were talking about the courthouse, you were not talking about moving the courthouse of the city of Marion, right?”

Commission Chair Roger Fleming and Commissioner Randy Dallke said Holub was correct.

Turning to a Record reporter, Holub said, “That’s what your headline indicated, and that’s how people read it and took it, and it’s bothered me for days now,” Holub said.

In fact, what the Record article reported was that Dallke had said the courthouse “is nothing but a pit,” that the road and bridge department and transfer station should be moved out of Marion, and that the health department should vacate the historic Bowron building and move to a new building to be constructed by the courthouse.

No mention was made in the article about moving the courthouse.

“There was never any intention to move anything out of Marion other than the road bridge shop, because you’ve got kids running around big, heavy industrial equipment, and the other one was the transfer station, trying to clean up the smells and everything else,” Holub continued.

Dallke reinforced Holub’s statement.

“There have been a number of constituents in my area that have talked to me about it. Some of them think it’s funny, some of them not, but it was never our intention. We never even talked about moving it out of the city of Marion,” Dalke said.

Fleming suggested the discussion was taken out of context.

“You can take certain things and put them in certain orders, and that’s what was done,” Fleming said. “I read that and I can understand why people thought that.”

The condition of the courthouse was part of a broader discussion about future county building needs at the July 23 meeting. It was the focus again Monday as commissioners worked with certified public accountant Scot Loyd on the budget proposal for 2014.

Proposed buildings included a multipurpose office building, a new metal building for the road and bridge department, and a new transfer station.

“That’s what I see in our immediate future, besides what can happen to the courthouse,” Dallke said.

In addition to air-conditioning and heating upgrades and window replacement, the courthouse needs more exterior repairs.

“Another item that’s lurking out there that we don’t know who to believe, there’s tuckpointing on this building that’s needed, and the figure on that was $600,000, or in that neighborhood,” Dallke said.

“That’s just the upper part,” Fleming said.

Commissioners expressed opinions that wherever possible, funds should come from department budgets to pay for building expenses.

“Do you feel the road and bridge fund can support three years in a row of $150,000 or a maximum of $200,000 a year to put back into the road and bridge fund for their own building?” Dalke asked.

“That’s the way I suggested to the supervisor, ‘I don’t want to take out of the general fund for a building for you,’” he said.

“They need to budget to save up for what a new building would cost,” Fleming said.

No specific plans have been developed for the building, which made choosing a savings target difficult.

“I don’t even know what number to throw out,” Fleming said.

Dallke said saving $200,000 per year would be a good start, and budgets could be adjusted when plans are developed.

“If we get two years saved back, I’d be interested in entertaining plans for the third year,” he said.

Holub said a metal building could be modified after the initial build.

“You can build for what you need now, and it’s easy to build on,” he said. “You can add on if needed when needed.”

“Do you want $750,000 to be your goal?” Loyd asked.

“$750,000 with a big question mark,” Fleming said.

Dallke said the loan payment amount for the transfer station would be a good starting point for saving funds.

“What was our payment, $112,000? I’d like to see at least that,” he said. “It’s not going to be less than a million; start from there until we get a better figure.”

“You may not be able to set aside enough to actually do that,” Loyd said. “You may have to set aside a downpayment.”

Commissioners settled on a goal of $1.5 million for a general building fund to supplement needs not directly funding through individual department budgets. Annual contributions of $300,000 per year for three years would be added to existing carry-over funds to reach the target.

Clerk Tina Spencer and Loyd were directed by commissioners to continue work on the budget, keeping it within current mill levies. The refined proposal will be presented at the commission meeting Thursday.

Last modified July 30, 2014

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