ROGERS CITY - Presque Isle County commissioners have a conceptual plan for a renovated courthouse and county jail.
Now, they have to figure out how to pay for the estimated $3-million project, and soon; to start construction in spring next year, the county will need to get bidding under way in roughly four months, according to Trinity Architecture & Management owner Tad Latuszek.
Latuszek met with commissioners Oct. 11 to look at drawings and cost estimates his company created. The plans call for the demolition of the main courthouse, which is more than 140 years old, and connecting a two-story annex and county jail.
The county could save more than a half-million dollars in utilities and maintenance costs over two decades, both by demolishing the outdated courthouse and by using existing boilers in the county jail to heat the entire building, Latuszek said.
Before commissioners can take any action on the plan, they must find ways to finance the construction, Chairman Carl Altman said.
"We're going to talk to the USDA and talk to local financing institutions, and then we may even put a bond on it," he said. "It's dependent on what we come up with (for) interest rates," which are currently "very pleasant."
Plans include an option to expand the jail, building a second story and adding a peaked roof, Latuszek said. This would raise the estimated project cost to about $3.3 million and solve any issues with the roof, which is near the end of its warranty life. It potentially could increase the county's staffing costs.
The renovations should save the county money for utilities costs by using five recently-installed high-efficiency boilers in the jail to heat the entire building, Latuszek said.
Demolishing the old courthouse also would mean the county no longer would have to maintain it, a source of much frustration for commissioners and expenses for the county, Altman said.
"We've been still hit with some repair things that are just nickel-diming us," he said.
Along with financing the project, the county would need to pay for construction drawings, Altman said. They'd also like to have a second architect look at the plans they currently have to get a second opinion on the cost estimates.
Officials have raised the issue of somehow replacing the courthouse before, Altman said, even before he joined the board in 1999.
"I think the board is all of the persuasion that something really should be done, and I think it's an opportune time, based on the availability of construction people and the interest rates being favorable right now," he said.
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