In February 2008, a committee was formed to review the current Putnam County courthouse annex and to look at any future needs the county and judicial offices may have.
The existing annex requires over $500,000 worth of work, including roof repair and heating and cooling, just to keep it operable. During the eight years the county has occupied the current annex, it has paid approximately $300,000 in utility and maintenance fees.
With the news that the boiler in the annex is not holding water and will cost thousands to repair, commissioners and courthouse annex committee members are looking at making a quick decision on what to do with the annex.
"We're trying to be as economical as possible," said County Planner Kim Hyten, who presented the plans to the commissioners.
Three options have been presented. They include building a new judicial center in a new location, adding on to the current annex site and remodeling the remaining building, or tearing down most of the existing building, but retaining a portion of it and building a new facility attached to the gym.
The most cost effective plan, according to the group, is to add 29,000 square feet to the existing gym for an estimated cost of $2,910,000 plus financing.
The new facility would be used for county offices and would be constructed prior to demolition of the existing annex building. This plan also includes using the basement of the gym as a possible FEMA tornado shelter.
All offices currently located in the annex would be moved and located in the gym, if the project is started early enough. The utility and maintenance cost savings per year for a new facility would average $42,599, with a 20-year estimated savings of $851,970. The deferred maintenance cost for issues on the current annex would be $2,500,000 along with a needed addition for $800,000.
"The project can be done without any additional taxing of residents. It will also save annual energy and maintenance costs. The new annex should serve the county for a minimum of 50 years," said Hyten.
Savings for the new facility just on maintenance and utilities should be $42,599 per year. The savings over 20 years should average $851,970 according to groups report.
"We know we are going to have to do something. We need to plan for another court system in two to three years," said Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, who is a member of the annex committee.
Also on the committee was Judge Matt Headley who commented that the current annex has reached its useful life.
"We're looking at a half a million dollars just to keep it going. Why throw good money after bad money?" said Headley. "Sitting here waiting for this building to crumble around us is not good foresight. This has been a great building, but it has served its usefulness."
Hyten wants to see the project break out so local contractors can bid on it.
"This is also the time to get the best interest rate and get the best bang for our buck. Material prices are down and contractors are very competitive," he said.
Commissioners tabled making a motion until the next meeting to determine that the economic development income tax is the same amount as quoted earlier by Umbaugh and Associates. This tax will be used to finance the building.
Commissioners did determine to move ahead with putting together drawings and specifications to make the annex project "shovel ready" as soon as possible.
"This would allow us to show that this project will provide a short-term economic stimulus, which is one of the objectives of the economic recovery act. It will also solve our long-term needs and allow us to put provisions in place for next winter if the heating system completely fails at the current annex," added Hyten.