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HANCOCK COUNTY

New maintenance shed public meetings planned in advance of Nov. 2 vote

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Hancock County Engineer Jeremy Purvis has announced that two public informational meetings will be held in advance of the Nov. 2 bond referendum for a proposed new county maintenance building in Britt.

This will be an opportunity for anyone to ask questions about the secondary roads department’s proposed 1020 Diagonal Street (Britt) new maintenance facility site. The county secondary roads department purchased approximately 10 acres of land along Diagonal Street on the east side of Britt in spring 2021.

The first public meeting will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the existing Britt maintenance building, 378 Second Street NW in Britt. The second meeting is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the Garner maintenance building, 177 Cottonwood Drive in Garner.

Purvis noted some primary project objectives, which are to provide adequate space for vehicle storage, safer/efficient on-site repair, improved energy efficiency, replacement space for the current building built in 1938 and shop built in 1959.

“The original Britt Shop is 83 years old,” Purvis said. “The maintenance shop is 62 years old. Equipment has gotten bigger over the years. Our current building lacks the space and overhead clearance to efficiently work on repairing vehicles. For example, if we have a truck box issue during the winter time, the mechanics must work on it outside as we don’t have the clearance overhead. Then, they must use a loader to assist with lifting. This can be unsafe due to stability of snow packed ground. We plan to have a taller repair shop with adequate clearance and an overhead crane to be able to do this indoors in the new building.”

Purvis said the new facilities are also needed because of a lack of critical space during the winter when trucks are fully loaded with snow equipment. He said the department has wanted to install pre-wetting salt systems to treat county roads, and improve public safety, but due to the increased length not fitting in any of the current sheds, the county has not purchased these setups. He noted that a pre-wetting system can help make salt stick better to roads to clear them more efficiently, which also helps save on salt usage.

The 27,000 square-foot building would have 12,622 square feet of heated vehicle storage, 5,962 feet for maintenance, and about 9,000 square feet for a sign shop, offices, and common areas. The estimated cost of project completion is approximately $5.2 million.

“We will have spent roughly $400,000 on purchasing the 10 acres of land and designing the proposed building,” Purvis said. “We have another $1.7 million saved to help pay for the project.”

The election ballot question will read, “Shall the County of Hancock, State of Iowa, enter into a loan agreement and issue its general obligation bonds in an amount not exceeding ($4.6 million) for the purpose of constructing, furnishing and equipping County public works facilities?”

Any Hancock County resident that is at least 18 years of age and a registered voter may vote on the referendum. To pass, a 60 percent “super majority” of county voters will need to sign off on the proposition.

Purvis said the property tax increase associated with this referendum is designed to be as minimal as possible. The estimated increase is anticipated to not exceed a 40 cents per $1,000 valuation debt service levy with the bond. It is projected to be on a 12-15 year repayment schedule.

According to Speer Financial estimates, a $100,000 residential property assessment could see $22.56 annual property tax increase over the life of a 13-year $4.6 general obligation bond. That annual tax could be about $90.00 for a $250,000 commercial assessment.

The shed construction could begin as early as spring 2022, dependent on funding.

“A new shop has been discussed since 2016 and possibly earlier,” Purvis said. “A needs assessment study was completed in 2018, but the real momentum to purchasing property and hiring an architect to design a new shop has taken place over this past year.”

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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