Supervisors borrow $8.2M for roofs, courthouse

Published 7:59 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019


The Southampton County Board of Supervisors on Monday night agreed to proceed with borrowing $8.2 million, but not before getting an earful from some residents about the proposal.

For starters, Joe Vick questioned any such intention to borrow the $2.2M that would be used for the acquisition of land and design of a new county courthouse. He noted that work could have been in progress for three months already, but asked, “What happened?”

“You changed the plan,” he added.

On that same topic, Linda Simmons challenged the board members, “Who are you representing?”

Dan Crumpler, an attorney, got the rare privilege of being given enough time able to make 14 requests of County Administrator Mike Johnson. He read his statement to all:

“As the Southampton County Board of Supervisors continues to move forward with the construction of a new courthouse against the clear wishes of the citizens, I think it is important that several matters be clarified. There have been lots of rumors as well as innuendo concerning various issues relating to the current courthouse, the proposed new courthouse and the projected costs as well as costs incurred thus far. Since I expect you have the more definitive information, I would request the following:”

• Among his points, Crumpler wants any and all reports that give evidence to the existence of black mold in the courthouse and its attachments. All reports, estimates and bills about what can be done or has been done should also be included. Similarly, any and all reports that indicated the complex is “not structurally sound.” Related to this are matters about flooding and the HVAC system.

• He asked if second opinions were obtained after a consulting firm reported that a major reason the 1960s addition should be torn down was because the “ceiling heights were not compatible with the improvement that needed to be made.” Further, copies are requested of any and all reports about that issue.

• Crumpler requested to know how often and for how long did the Courthouse Advisory Committee met. The name of the vendor and the money spent on the Courthouse Needs Assessment are sought.

• Further, he wants to know the money spent so far on the project to be itemized, including the architect and consulting fees about research on the proposed sites, engineering, soil and survey costs, how much was spent on the referendum, including the printing and mailing of brochures, costs incurred in the site selection process and since the referendum

• Names of those who made a power point presentation to the local bar association on March 16, 2016, and any other such presentations.

• The attorney asked if the City of Franklin has been billed for its shared of expenses relating to the advisory committee, the vendor and money spent for the Needs Assessment. Related to this is whether or not the city has paid.

• Have either the administrator or supervisors made any tours or visits to any nearby courthouses. If so, who, when and where?

• Finally, any and all emails, mail or any other type of correspondence about the courthouse’s renovation or construction since Jan. 1, 2015, which involves the county administration, county officials, Board of Supervisors, City of Franklin’s administration, the Advisory Committee and architects, consultants and anyone involved in the issue.

The attorney cited a state code 15-2-1643, section E, which concerns circuit courts to order court facilities to be repaired. Specifically, “Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a circuit court to require that an additional or replacement courthouse be constructed.”

Crumpler told the board, “You do have a choice.”

Later, when the matter came up on the agenda, David Rose and associates from Davenport and Co. spelled out borrowing options. Union Bank and Trust proposed a 2.48 percent bank qualified rate on the 2019A Note for the school roofs, and the same for 2019B Note for the courthouse.

Final credit approval is in progress, and closing could be done around May 24.

The report noted that the “2.48 percent rate is over 1.00 percent lower than the planning rate used in the previously presented capital planning analysis.”

The money could be paid in full at any time without penalty, and that partial prepayments could be done only two times a year.

With that rate in mind, the interest would be $522,198 for Note A, making a total of $6,472,198 to pay back; and $83,962 for Note 56, making a total of $2,283,962 to pay back; ultimately, a total of $8,756,160M.

The board was reminded that the repair for Fresh Start had to come under the second loan because it did not qualify for a Literary Loan from the state.

The suggestion was made to borrow only the funds for the school roofs and hold off on the latter, but Rose and others on the board pointed out that it could cost the county more because interest rates could go up.

After some discussion, the board agreed to both notes. The school board will make a formal approval on May 13; IDA will approve around May 22; and the closing on or close to May 24.