The Pulaski County Council is getting a clearer picture of the financial impact of a potential courthouse renovation project. Financial consultant Jeffrey Peters presented some revised estimates Monday, based on the most recent renovation plans presented by Rowland Design.
Peters said that borrowing enough money for a $6 million project could add a property tax of 5.18 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. “For a $150,000 mortgaged homestead . . . that gross tax would be about $33.80 for the year, and normally, I would only give you the net tax, which is the $16.64 but you guys are talking, potentially, about playing with that income tax subsidy for property,” he explained. “If you left those alone, it would be about $16.64 for the year.”
That estimate is in line with what Rowland thought it might cost to renovate the courthouse but move Circuit Court to an expanded Justice Center. It might not be enough money to move the Clerk’s Office, though.
Peters still recommends issuing bonds through the lease-rental process, in which the property is transferred to a legally-separate building corporation and leased back by the county. The bond would be paid off over a 20-year period. Peters noted that his estimate could vary, depending on interest rates and other factors.
Council Member Ken Boswell pointed out that the impact on taxpayers could be minimal, if county officials get their timing right. “When the jail lease goes off here will be about the same time that the courthouse will be going on, so it would be a lateral move,” he said. “Hopefully, it comes in less and it would lower that tax rate by a little bit, hopefully, don’t increase it by none.”
So far, no final decision has been made about the future of the courthouse, and Rowland Design is still working on a final report.