County OKs ninth payment on Justice Center

Steve Rogers
Staff Writer

With a ninth payment this week, Clay County is closing in on not only completing its new Justice Center but also paying for the construction.

Supervisors approved a payment of $260,128 to Benchmark Construction, the construction manager handling the project for the county and the tax-exempt public buildings arm of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District.

Since construction started early last summer, the county has made nine payments totaling $2,112,983, from the proceeds of almost $4 million in certificates of participation issued last year to finance the project. The county won’t actually have to start paying back those notes for several more months.

Construction on the $2,871,000 project is expected to be completed by May. The rest of the bond proceeds are paying for the site on Main Street, architect fees and other expenses.

The county Board of Supervisors spent more than two years studying options and financing before formally purchasing the 26,500-square-foot old Jitney Jungle/Pass It On building from the Regional Mental Health Foundation last April.

Supervisors, architect Roger Pryor and county leaders had spent months developing plans to renovate about 20,000-square-feet into three courtrooms and related offices and security facilities for Circuit Court and Justice Court.

The project will meet the county’s needs for years and has space for future expansion. The current courthouse will be used by Chancery and Youth courts, as it is now. The Tax Assessor also will remain there.

The financial portions of Chancery Court and supervisors will likely move upstairs.

The county financed a total $4,015,000 for 20 years through a lease-purchase agreement with the tax-exempt construction arm of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District. The financing is covered with the county’s existing tax rates and county leaders hope to pay off the certificates of participation within 15 years.