No shows for county public hearing

Hardin County officials discuss timeline leading to officials seeking certificate of obligations

By Daniel Elizondo

Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel Jr. and county commissioners were set to hear what the public had to say about seeking certificates of obligation to help fund the construction of a new county annex building.

The scheduled meeting is a part of policy, as the county prepares to seek the CO’s in the amount of $1.1 million.

While county officials were ready to hear the public outcry, it all turned into a moot point when no one showed up to voice their concerns.

However, thanks to legislative laws, a second public hearing is set for Monday, June 20 at the Hardin County courthouse, set promptly for 6 p.m.

Instead, McDaniel discussed the timeline of events that have led to the point of the county seeking the CO’s to help some understand that were in attendance.

“The history of this court is that right decisions have been made,” Pct. 1 Commissioner LW Cooper said. “When I found out that we had enough money in reserves to help fund this, I was comfortable with the decision. I’m satisfied with the results.”

The current county annex posed a problem that was growing after mold spores were detected in the building some time in August 2014 during the tenure of former county judge Billy Caraway. The building was constructed in 1954, which became a hospital in Kountze.

Several of the departments were forced to leave the building, including the Department of Public Safety Drivers License Division, which has not returned.

Most of the departments eventually returned, but the ailing building continues to cause problems when it was found the HVAC system needed to be replaced.

County Judge McDaniel said that despite the building having spores of mold, there was no toxic stachybotrys, or black mold detected that would cause imminent illness.

The county began the bid process of figuring mold remediation and asbestos abatement, along with remodeling costs, and HVAC replacement which came to an estimated $2.05 million.

The building, which is in excess of 40,000 square feet, is not all utilized by the county, which as another motive to switch gears and check into new construction.

The new annex would be 10,000 square feet complete with storage use for all of the courthouse departments.

Departments that would be in the new annex would be health, senior citizen, indigent health, DPS, HUD, county extension office, soil conservation, veterans services and crime victims.

Construction costs is estimated at $1.7-$1.8 million, and the county is expecting to shell out the remaining $800,000 from contingency to help complete the funding.

The county currently has a bond debt from the construction of the jail in 2007, which is expected to be paid off by 2023.

McDaniel said the debt of the annex from the $1.1 million bond would begin 10 years from the date the bonds would be issued.

“We’re looking at 1/10 of a cent increase on the debt,” McDaniel said. “However, I believe that the county could absorb that amount on the 10-year note.”

The county purchased two extra lots on a tract of land on Redwood Street, across from the courthouse in Kountze.

There are two more lots that the county would acquire to essentially take up the block. 

McDaniel said the county purchased the two lots for $12,500 each. 

“We appreciate all that you do for us,” said Lynda Davis of indigent health to commissioners. “No one knows what goes on behind the scenes. You took the time on this issue with different opinions and professional opinions. Your decisions were cost effective while keeping in mind that it needed to be done.”

McDaniel said the old building could possibly be sold at a minimum price if the county earns the CO’s.

Follow on Twitter: @dtelizondo

Video courtesy of Hardin County website

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