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County OKs bond proposal

Refinancing would benefit several county projects, VDMC

November 28, 2012
Anne Blankenship ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Tuesday morning and approved a proposal to enter into a refinancing of the General Obligation bonds for several county projects, including Van Diest Medical Center, the Hamilton County Public Health building remodeling, Hamilton County Conservation's new cabins at Little Wall, Briggs Woods and Bells Mill parks.

"The entire package is not to exceed $16,850,000. The majority of that is with the hospital refinance included. We're doing $600,000 for conservation, $200,000 for public health, and also the refinancing of notes for Red Bull Avenue and our courthouse parking lot," said Chairman David Young.

"That will split into two offerings," said Supervisor Wes Sweedler. "The first will be $10 million and the second offering will be not to exceed $6.85 million."

Brian Lammers, executive director of the Hamilton County Conservation Department, said they plan to construct five more cabins in the county parks system - two a Briggs Woods, two at Little Wall Lake and one a Bells Mill Park. A large log cabin was completed this fall at Briggs Woods.

"We've had very good success working with the Prairie Rivers Resource Conservation and Development on the project," Lammers said. "We had a lot of interest in that cabin and have already taken reservations."

With the refinancing of the bonding, Lammers said Conservation was asking for $600,000 to construct the five cabins.

"These cabins will be somewhat similar to the one completed. Two will be similar size and three will be smaller," he said. The smaller cabins will sleep six to eight people while the larger units will accommodate up to 15 campers.

"Our goal is to get more people coming into the county and to spend more time with us and explore the county and the communities," he said. "Hopefully, we'll see a spin off with more dollars being spent in the county."

Lammers said the revenue generated from the rental of the cabins would be used to pay back their portion of funding.

Shelby Kroona, Hamilton County Public Health administrator, said the construction at the new building was progressing, but the Dec. 21 completion date may not be met.

"Hopefully, by the first of the year it will be totally completed," she said.

Kroona said the remodeling of the former UAW Hall on James Street, will provide her staff a more efficient environment for providing services to clients.

"Currently, we deliver services to people kind of throughout the entire building. The new building is intentionally built with public areas and private areas, which keeps us in compliance for HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the privacy law for medical records and patient confidentiality," she said. "We're very pleased that we were able to design and organize in that way."

Kroona said Women Infant and Children clinics will still be provided and in the new setting will offer more private, confidential consultations. In the current building, WIC clinics were held in two large open conference rooms. The new facility will offer private consultation rooms, she said.

Young said that the refinancing will provide a savings of approximately $1 million over time for Van Diest Medical Center. The total offering for the hospital would be just shy of $14 million of the bonds to be refinanced.

The county portion of the refinancing - for Red Bull Drive, the parking lot and is just under $2.2 million, according to Sweedler. Of that total, less than $700,000 is actually being serviced by property taxes. The rest is being serviced by local option sales tax funds or revenues, he said.

With no written or oral objections to the refinancing, the board approved the proposal. A special meeting was set for Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. to finalize the first $10 million bonds. Young said the interest rate was expected to be in the .3 to .5 percent range.

In other business, Jane Adams of Youth and Family Center, submitted her agency's funding request for the coming year. She requested the same amount as in the current and previous year - $10,710. Adams said the agency requests funding from all of the cities in Hamilton County as well as from the county to help cover the cost of crisis counseling.

"These are families that just walk in the door, or I might get a call from a school or public health when there is a family in need. This lets us deal with emergencies as they happen," she said. Board members said they would take up the request during budget discussion after the first of the year.



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