GREENSBORO — County leaders on Thursday moved ahead with plans to sell $40 million in government bonds to help pay for three new, public buildings and increased security for Guilford schools.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that made required assurances that the proposed projects are public necessities and that Guilford County has sufficient financial resources to take on the additional debt.
The resolution also scheduled a public hearing on the bonds for 5:30 p.m. April 4 in the Old Courthouse, 301 W. Market St.
The board still must vote for final approval of the so-called “two-thirds” bonds. Up to $30 million would be for new emergency medical and law enforcement buildings, and a relocated animal shelter.
A separate issuance of $10 million of county debt would go toward helping the Guilford County Board of Education boost security measures at local schools.
County officials estimate roughly that they will pay just more than 3 percent interest on the entire package, costing the taxpayer a total of about $18.3 million over the life of the bonds.
Two-thirds bonds get their name from the state law that permits local governments to issue such general obligation bonds without getting approval from voters in a referendum, if they keep the new total below two-thirds of the amount of such bonds that they paid off during the previous fiscal year.
In a recent work session, the commissioners learned that they would need up to $11.3 million in potential bond financing for the Emergency Medical Services Building that carried an estimated total price tag of about $14.4 million.
Financial advisers told the board it would need about $4.9 million in additional bond financing to put toward the new animal shelter.
That would leave up to $13.8 million for the planned law-enforcement center that would primarily house Guilford County Sheriff’s Office operations, on the site of the old jail at 401 W. Sycamore St.
Original plans to renovate that building developed in former sheriff BJ Barnes’ administration were estimated to cost more than $17 million.
But newly elected Sheriff Danny Rogers contended it would be less costly to tear down the old structure and build new, which recent architectural studies proved to be correct.
At their work session earlier in the day, the board voted 8-0 to build a new two-story law enforcement center on the former jail site at an estimated cost of about $12 million.
In making that choice, they dismissed concerns by Rogers that any new building should include three stories to allow enough room for future expansion.
A consultant told the board that the two-story plan spanned 35,000 square feet, with 10 percent of that extra space that could accommodate future growth in the department’s size.
But the commissioners sided with the sheriff in rejecting a proposal to close part of the tunnel between the former detention center and the Guilford courthouse during construction.
That option would have saved about $400,000 and resulted in a finished building in mid-2020 instead of early 2021.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s department said the tunnel was required to safely transport prisoners to and from the current detention center and court hearings. Closing that part of the tunnel would expose deputies, inmates and others to unacceptable risks, he said.