DOBSON — County officials have scheduled a public hearing as they prepare to borrow money to pay for approved projects like the historic courthouse and school renovations.
With Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the county Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday night instead to discuss a bond issuance of $8.2 million.
Among the projects this issuance will cover are renovations of the former Lowes Food grocery store in Dobson Plaza, the historic courthouse in Dobson, renovating the former Pike building into a city schools headquarters, planning for major renovations at three county elementary schools, and planning and designs to renovate the gym at Elkin High School.
These expenses were part of a larger group of expenditures approved last May by the county board.
At that time, the commissioners expected they could borrow as much as $10 million this year and $30 million next year to fund the four school projects being planned and designed this year.
A big chunk of the $8.2 million goes toward the county’s two projects approved earlier this month. The county received a bid of $1.8 million for work on Dobson Plaza and $1.7 million for the courthouse. The board also chose to set aside another $175,000 in contingency funds for those projects.
Mount Airy City Schools is converting the former Pike Electric building on Riverside Drive into its new central office. The 22,500-square-foot building also will include a 21’x61’ meeting room and warehouse space. It also will have some classroom space that can be available for other county needs — Surry Community College evening classes and GED training were mentioned as possibilities.
The design work will prepare the county for four big projects on the to-do list for 2018-19.
The county agreed to a big renovation project at Mountain Park Elementary School that could cost up to $7.5 million. Two other renovations at Dobson and Franklin elementary schools could cost as much as $6 million each.
At Mountain Park, the media/arts building is one of the oldest school buildings in the county, finished in 1947. According to a facility needs survey presented in September 2015, the building was graded as “poor” condition with unsatisfactory handicap accessibility — a common problem with any building more than 30 years old.
The classroom building came in 1951, the cafeteria in 1957 and the gym in 1968; all three were listed as fair.
Dobson Elementary’s fine arts building is the oldest construction on campus, built in 1950. The 4,000-square-foot structure was graded “poor” condition. The cafeteria and classroom areas were part of the 1954 construction, with the gym built in 1963. Both were listed as being in fair condition.
The facility survey says Franklin’s two-story building was finished in 1952. The primary building followed in 1957 and the gym in 1962. All three were graded as fair condition.
Dobson Elementary added an office building in 1991, while Franklin and Mountain Park each built one in 1996. All are considered in good condition and partial compliance on accessibility.
Nearly $7.8 million is estimated to be spent at Elkin High School to renovate the gymnasium. The gym will gain its compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by way of an addition.
Right now, the gym has a concession stand and bathrooms on a lower level than the court. This not only isn’t handicap accessible, it isn’t very senior friendly for the grandparents there to watch the kids play.
County Finance Officer Sarah Bowen said she and other financial advisors will be at Tuesday’s meeting to answer any questions from the county board. Once the public hearing is complete, the county can close the deal in February and have the bond issuance go through in March.
There is a 20-year payment plan on the $8.2 million, with payments made twice a year. While prices change daily on bonds, Bowen noted, right now it looks like the county will receive $8.2 million, and by the time the final payment is made in 20 years, the payout will be about $10.5 million.
This is a limited-obligation bond, she explained. Any money that isn’t spent on the projects will be used to pay down the principal.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.