Courthouse air-conditioning repair triggers exploration of broader financial options

Blount County Commission

The Blount County Commission met in emergency session last Thursday to discuss long-range solutions to an immediate air-conditioning problem in light of other needed courthouse renovations awaiting attention, as well as other substantial projects the commission now has in progress or under active consideration.

The commission authorized county administrator John Bullard to research financing options for remaining courthouse renovations and other work to be done and report back to the commission in the July business meeting on July 13.

Acknowledging that the immediate air conditioning problem has been repaired, commission chairman Chris Green added that “replacing the current air conditioning system is much more complicated than it might seem on the surface. Hence the meeting led to a broad discussion of all the mechanical repairs that need to be considered.

“The original construction of the courthouse dates back to 1954,” Green said. “To replace the heating/ air conditioning system, electrical updates would be required. During that process would be the right time to replace old plumbing, update public restrooms, and do other renovation.

“The renovation work that needs to be addressed will require borrowing money, if done now or later. If the commission makes the hard decision to move forward, we need to know what our financing options would be, and how we would repay a loan to do the work. This information is required to make an informed decision.

“While we are exploring the cost for renovating the courthouse, it is the perfect time to include the jail addition and other capital improvements that need to be considered.”