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Commissioners and judge approve bond for new courthouse annex; new bond sale consolidates old debt

March 21, 2012

The action by the Pike County Commissioners—with the absence of Judge Joseph Kameen, who is a party to the bond sale—approved the issuance of a $12 million bond to pay for a new annex to the ancient courthouse.

The total bond sale is intended to bring in $21,455,000, which includes the cost of the building as well as the consolidation of several other debts that the county is currently paying. “It’s like refinancing your home and borrowing at a much lower rate than you could in the past,” commissioner Karl Wagner said.

The plan is to “advance-refund” the county’s 2008 bond debt, $3 million that was used for the Scenic Rural Character Preservation and $7 million for the Pike County Emergency Training facility, saving an estimated $700,000 in interest.

At the meeting on March 14, David Payne of PMC Capital Market encouraged the two bond actions because the interest rates are low. “It’s better to act now when you get more,” said Rich Caridi, chairman of the commissioners. The interest rate that the county got was 3.28%.

Built in 1874, the courthouse is supposed to adequately provide safe, efficient judicial services to the county’s growing population. In addition, the county now has a second sitting judge, Greg Chelak, because of the number of cases that require litigation.

“We need to do something that’s efficient and fiscally appropriate,” Caridi said. “Our citizens deserve a better courthouse.”

Caridi waited unsuccessfully for the arrival of Kameen, who was in court and wanted to be present.

“This is a joint venture between the county and the court,” he said.

With no exact plan in place yet, the preliminary proposal is to renovate the existing courthouse while building an annex to house the district attorney, sheriff, public defender and probation offices and provide space for a second courtroom.

As for the location of the annex, officials said the plot of land immediately south of the current building would be best, since the ground has been perked for sewage. However, the building currently located on the spot is in the Milford Historic District, a tract of land owned by Milford Borough.
One possibility would be to move the historic building to another location nearby.

The new bonding would raise property taxes in the county by one mill.

“One mill would mean an annual increase of $18.28 for each taxable entity,” said commissioner Matthew Osterberg.
The vote on the adoption of the new bond was unanimous.