Commission sets expansion resolution
By Chris Erickson
The process in moving toward the expansion of the Mercer County Courthouse and Detention Center took a step forward last week during the regular county commission meeting.
The county had previously applied for and been granted a loan from the Energy Impact Office for the amount of $7 million. That funding would be paid off from future coal severance and conversion taxes, with the remaining estimated $2.8 million coming out of county savings.
According to County Auditor Shana Brost, the loan was approved at the land board meeting. Brost said her discussion with a representative from the board found that the county didn’t have to get voter approval for the loan, since a coal loan wasn’t considered debt for the county based on current statute.
“So we’ve been approved and now we just wait,” she added.
State’s Attorney Jessica Binder stated that, with the way the law reads, if taxes were increased there would have to be a vote, noting that “overall consensus was to have the people approve this as proposed.”
According to Binder a few statutes were triggered by the newly-formed resolution, including spending extraordinary amounts, such as with the $2.8 million in savings, and the potential for an increase in tax if the annual loan payments couldn’t be met by coal severance or conversion taxes. In that case, the resolution stated that the present mill value would result in a maximum annual payment to repay the loan would be $60.84 for a $100,000 home and $37 on a quarter of ag land valued at $54,400.