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County approves lease for bell tower, equipment

Clark County officials took another step forward in the process to fund a new bell tower for the courthouse.

Wednesday, the Clark County Fiscal Court unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance for a lease of approximately $940,000. Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said the lease is part of the process leading to a bond issue.

R. J. Palmer, a consultant with Compass Municipal Advisors, said the bonds must be approved by the Department of Local Government in a public hearing before they can be issued. The hearing is required for bond issues of more than $500,000 which will not be repaid within the fiscal year, he said.

The bonds will fund three projects: the replacement of the courthouse bell tower, purchasing new self-contained breathing apparatus for the Clark County Fire Department and a new front-end loader for the Clark County Road Department.

“We’re anticipating, hoping, to sell these in late September,” Palmer said. “We’ll finalize a plan we’ll send to the judge.”

Palmer said the leases will be of varying lengths, depending on the lifespan of the equipment or the project: 20 years for the tower, 10 years for the SCBA and 15 years for the loader. The lease payments can also be broken down by project and department, he said.

The SCBA will cost about $190,000 and the loader will cost about $166,000.

Last month, the Fiscal Court accepted a bid of $751,015 to reconstruct the bell tower on the courthouse. The bid included an alternate option of $21,194 to place gold leaf on the cupola. Wednesday, Magistrate Robert Blanton presented a check for that amount from an anonymous donor through the Bluegrass Foundation.

Branham said the Administrative Office of the Courts has agreed to reimburse the county 44 percent of the cost of replacing the bell tower.

Architect Margie Jacobs of Tate Hill Jacobs said the old tower should be removed by November and replaced with a temporary roof. Jacobs said it would be an “extended period of time” before the new tower is constructed and delivered.

The tower has deteriorated and causes significant leaks in the courthouse following rain.

In other action, the Fiscal Court approved tax rates for fiscal year 2018. The court voted unanimously to leave the current rates of 9.3 cents per $100 value for real property and 11.67 cents for tangible property intact.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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