With talk of interest rates rising in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, county commissioners intend to waste no time in getting financing nailed down for the new courthouse and coroner facility.
Since the presidential election, some economic forecasters have predicted a jump in interest rates. Mortgage rates jumped recently and the bond market has also been disrupted with some bond rates increasing as well. Since the county will have to borrow money by issuing bonds to pay for the $182 million courthouse and $19 million coroner’s lab, interest rate changes could have a big effect on what the total cost will be with debt service.
“With the chatter about higher interest rates over the next four or five years – I saw somebody’s projection that within five years interest rates would be up to about six percent – we need to be fully aware of that potential,” said Chairman Ed Eilert.
Voters on Nov. 8th approved a quarter-cent sales tax increase to pay for the building projects that would include a nine-level courthouse across the street from the current one in downtown Olathe. The coroner’s facility would be built near the county crime lab at 119th Street and Ridgeview in Olathe.
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Although the county did schematics and tentative floor plans before putting the question to voters, there’s still plenty of work to be done before construction starts in early 2018.
Talks have already begun on the land acquisition from the city of Olathe and the county commission plans to start work right away on fulfilling legal requirements for the bond sale.
The county commission will focus first on the courthouse.
According to an updated schedule the commission reviewed last Thursday, the county will spend a little over a year seeking proposals, hiring a design/build team and working out the courthouse design details. Construction is expected to begin in early 2018, with a ribbon cutting ceremony tentatively in early to mid-2021.
Work on planning the coroner’s facility will start later, possibly in February 2017, because the county may need to consider changes in the coroner’s office operations as a result of having a new facility, said Brad Reinhardt, county facilities manager.