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Court approves courthouse renovation loan

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By Joshua Shepherd

By Josh Shepherd, News writer
The courthouse renovation project advanced another significant step Tuesday night when the fiscal court approved the bid from Kentucky Bank for a $750,000 loan at a 10-year, 2.49 percent fixed interest rate.
R.J. Palmer, State Senate Minority Leader, addressed the fiscal court in his private capacity as an agent of Civic Finance Advisors. Civic is working under contract with the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) and handled the solicitation of bids for the  courthouse renovation loan.
Palmer said that six bids were received by the deadline last Thursday. Of the bids received, he said that there was only one that offered an interest rate lower than Kentucky Bank. However, it was a variable rate, Palmer said, and there was no guarantee that the rate would remain low.
It was CFA’s recommendation that the fiscal court accept Kentucky Bank’s bid.
Magistrates Missy Lutz and Brad Marshall abstained from voting because of their direct association with Kentucky Bank. Lutz is an employee and Marshall has a seat on the bank’s board.
Responding to a question from Magistrate William Fritz, Palmer assured the court that the loan agreement was strictly with Kentucky Bank.
“Civic Finance Advisors are not in the business of making loans,” Palmer said.
The vote from the remaining six magistrates were in favor of accepting the loan with Magistrate Bradley Copes casting the lone dissenting vote.
As a matter of procedure, County Attorney Bradlkey Vaughn had a first reading of an ordinance announcing the fiscal court’s intent to take out a loan to finance the courthouse renovation. A second reading  and vote on that ordinance is required before the vote accepting the loan becomes official, Vaughn said.
As the court moves forward with the renovation project, other matters were also addressed.
Magistrates Fritz and Larry Wells headed a committee evaluating the six bids  for temporary office space for the Judge Executive’s Office and Planning and Zoning.
In the last month, they had visited each location and evaluated them to determine where the court would get the most value for their investment.
With price comparison being virtually the same, it was their recommendation that the fiscal court accept the bid from LeBus Properties at Orleans Square in downtown Cynthiana. If paid in advance, the rental fee for the space was about $100 a month, Wells said, and the properties also featured excellent storage space.
The motion to accept the committee recommendation for a temporary office space was approved 7-1 with Copes voting against the motion.

In other business, the court:
•Approved a suggestion from Marshall to solicit sealed bids for the sale of the county bucket truck.
• Heard Marshall’s concerns about the cost of buying a new bucket truck with a 50-55-foot boom. He reported that the cost would run between $40-55,000 if the court wanted that large of a boom.
The court could opt for a truck with a 40-foot boom for about $20,000, he said, but it would limit the ability of the county road department to keep tree limbs under control on some roads.
The magistrates appeared to favor going with a smaller bucket truck and hiring out for larger projects as a cost savings measure. However, no definitive decision was made on the matter.
•Approved renewing the health insurance plan for county employees for 2014. The plan would remain exactly the same, but county costs would rise about 12.9 percent, Fritz said.
“Others are being quoted increases of 30-40 percent, so this seems like the best deal available to us,” Fritz said in making his recommendation to the board.
• Judge Alex Barnett announced that organizations which are storing banners at the courthouse must remove them by Dec. 15 to make way for renovation. All remaining banners will be thrown away after that date.
•Approved Barnett’s request to add Monday, Dec. 23, to the holiday time off for county employees.
•Accepted Magistrate Paula  Taylor’s suggestion that the annual small business celebration scheduled for Nov. 30 be a breakfast at the courthouse beginning at 9 a.m.
•Barnett announced that the surplus property in the courthouse would be divided into lots and persons wishing to buy these items submit sealed bids for them.