At a special Piatt County board building and grounds committee meeting on Jan. 7, members voted 3-0 to recommend the county issue debt certificates to fund an $85,000 fix for the public safety building heating and cooling system.
The Piatt County board followed suit the next day, giving final approval to the project, along with the funding that will pay for it.
The $210,000 remaining in debt certificates taken out to pay for courthouse projects in 2017 will be refinanced and increased to $295,000 and extended to pay for the project. The yearly payment of about $30,000 will not change, but the final payment will be extended six years until November of 2032. There will be no payment in the current year, even though the project should be completed this spring.
“The new (debt certificate) issue would do two things. It would provide cash to finance the improvements to the public safety building, and push this payment back and re-amortize it at a debt service that would then remain the same,” said Mike Atwood of First State Bank of Monticello.
The interest rate will be an estimated 2.98 percent annually, slightly lower than the current 3.12 percent with the existing certificates.
Maintenance officials say the current HVAC was not installed according to specifications in 2003, prompting several costly fixes over the past 16 years. This fix is aimed at remedying that situation, in addition to providing a more efficient system.
County board member Bob Murrell was in favor of the project, even though it was not included in the recently approved county budget. He felt the outlay would be recovered within a few years through fewer repairs and increased energy savings.
“I’m all in favor of jumping quickly, because it’s going to save the taxpayers money, and we need to fix it now. I mean yesterday, we need to fix it,” said Murrell.
County Maintenance Supervisor Doug Winder pegged at least $90,000 in replacement costs to wear and tear caused by the current HVAC setup at the jail portion of the safety building since 2013, saying the compressors are too large and work too hard, even when only slight cooling is needed.
The one-circuit system will also be replaced with a two-circuit one that will provide better backup and energy efficiency since it would not have to run all out, all the time.
The work – replacing a pair of 40-ton condensers with a single, 40-ton one that has four compressors – will be done by Reliable Mechanical Co. of Champaign. The project will include a 5-year warranty on parts and labor, something no other contractor offered and “unheard of” in a retrofit, said Winder.
Reliable will also recover R22 coolant from the current system to be used in other county systems, since the new jail one will use newer R410A coolant, trademarked Puron. That will net a savings to the county of about $1,000. The contractor will also give the county dollars netted by scrapping the old system.
“I’ve heard nothing but this problem since I’ve been on the board,” said County Board Chairman Ray Spencer, who came on the board in 2014. “The previous board was trying to go back on the contractor, and it’s just been an ongoing process.”
The project will start in the early spring, and should done by the time cooling season commences.