Adams County Board to weigh options including new HVAC system or new courthouse

Adams County Courthouse aerial

The Adams County Courthouse needs a new HVAC system, but a whole new courthouse could also be on the table. MRN FILE PHOTO

QUINCY – Dave Bellis was the bearer of bad news at Tuesday’s Adams County Board meeting.

The Transportation, Building and Technology Committee chairman said the courthouse’s HVAC system, which is supported by a boiler from the 1950’s and other parts from the building’s last major remodel in 1990, has long exceeded its expected life and needs to be replaced.

The unit has been serviced and cleaned over the last year in an attempt to remediate the building’s mold problem, but that doesn’t solve the problem of inconsistent temperatures throughout the building and an inefficient system that uses 20,000 gallons of water a month.

Bellis said a study by RTM Engineering of Springfield has a $7.4 million estimate for a new unit. That cost is lessened because of some of the work already done during the mold remediation process.

Finance Committee Chairman Bret Austin said bonds would have to be issued should the County Board choose to go that route and that would more than likely lead to a tax increase. When the County issued bonds to build a new jail, the interest rate was 2.45 percent. Austin said with interest rates in the 7.5 to 8 percent range, the true cost of a new system would be closer to $11 million.

Austin then said if the County was talking about spending that kind of money, then the Board should at least look into the possibility of building a new courthouse. Austin’s suggestion didn’t receive any push back and some board members agreed the idea should at least be considered.

Bellis said the project would take about two years to complete as work would be done in pieces and in off -hours as not to disrupt the daily business in the courthouse. He said that RTM needed $800,000 to perform the preliminary engineering work and that would secure the County’s place in line as the company has multiple projects in the pipeline.

Austin asked if this could be pushed back to April in order to get a few more questions answered before the County made any commitment and the Board voted to do that.

In other business, Adams County Sheriff Tony Grootens told the Board he would be asked for additional deputies in next year’s budget in order to place school resource officers in each of the schools in Adams County outside of Quincy. The Sheriff’s Department currently has one resource officer who rotates among all four school districts outside of Quincy.

“With the way things are in the world right now, we just can’t risk it,” Grootens said.

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