Architect hired for communications center

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


An architect has been hired by the Washington County Board of Supervisors to design a new communications building, which will house the $4.5 million worth of communicaitons equipment recently purchased by the county.

Neumann Monson Architects, of Iowa City, was unanimously approved by supervisors to design a proposed communications building to house the new communications system the supervisors voted to purchase during its previous meeting. According to the contract, the design will be used to establish a budget and provide information for a bond vote, which will happen in late 2018. Construction would begin six to eight months following a successful bond vote.

The site of the new building would be between the Washington County sheriff?s office and the Washington County Jail on Lexington Boulevard.

The board also voted unanimously to approve a preliminary statement on the general obligation bond that will finance communications equipment the supervisors approved purchasing during the previous meeting.

When this year?s budget was created, the supervisors included the borrowing of $10.5 million for the equipment and a tax levy was implemented to repay the amount. One general obligation bond is scheduled to be issued this year and a second is to be issued next year to cover the cost of the project, which will be determined once a design is approved.

?The goal with any kind of financing like this is that we don?t borrow one dollar more than we need or one dollar less than we need,? said Michael Hart, of Northland Securities in Des Moines. The firm acts as the county?s advisers for the bond issuance.

Hart outlined the procedure the county needed to follow to issue the bonds. He said the county expects to incur about $2.7 million in costs during 2019. During the discussion, Hart spoke of the county?s bond rating, saying the rating was very good and could save the county about $40,000 in interest payments. He also discussed the official statement the county was making regarding the bonds to those potentially interested in purchasing the bonds. The supervisors approved the statement later in the meeting.

Washington County communications systems are being replaced because the current setup is outdated, making finding replacement part difficult. Also, there are many areas of the county, especially inside buildings, where it is difficult for emergency responders to reach the communications center. In-building communications are estimated to be about 39 percent on portable radios.