News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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April 9, 2014

Early payoff will save $1.5M

Vigo looking to retire debt on lease-to-own building

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo County officials are planning to pay off a long-term obligation on a lease-to-own building that houses the Vigo County Community Corrections, a move that would save county taxpayers about $1.5 million in interest payments.

Vigo County Commissioners had sought to request a payment of $222,653 from the Vigo County Council at its meeting Tuesday to pay the lease through the end of this year; however, Commissioner Mike Ciolli asked to withdraw that request.

“After a discussion, we have decided to withdraw that request and request $2.9 million to make a payoff on the community corrections [building], which would save the county $1.5 million over about the next 10 years,” Ciolli said.

The funding is slated to come from the county’s Rainy Day fund. The funding request has been assigned to the council’s budget adjustment committee and could go before the full council next month.

The county would owe $2,815,538 if it paid off the lease in June, Ciolli said.

The county’s lease was to expire this year, but was expanded in 2009 after the county made renovations. The expanded lease is to expire in June 2023, Vigo County Auditor Tim Seprodi said after the meeting.

Vigo County leases the building at First and Oak streets from FAMCO Fabrication Works LLC, a company owned by Terre Haute businessman Gregory L. Gibson.

The county’s lease is $37,457 a month. The county also owed $46,854 for each month of May and June, with interest, for non-payment by the Community Corrections Department. Ciolli said the department did not have the funding to make the payments.

“Part of the building is now vacant, so it is not quite on a break even,” Ciolli said. “Community Corrections had originally only agreed to pay into it for 10 years and doesn’t have the money.”

The county in 2009 renovated the portion of the building as a courtroom for Superior Court Division 2 during an extensive renovation of the county’s 19th century courthouse. The county moved the Title IV-D into that court. A judge for the court has since been moved into the building.

A change since  2009 has been the withdrawal of the Terre Haute law firm Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos and Newlin which no longer leases space in the building.

The building, in addition to the Title IV-D court and judge, houses the Vigo County Alcohol and Drug program, a state parole office and community corrections.

Councilman Bill Thomas said he thinks paying off the lease early “is a good idea to move forward … and puts us in a much better situation financially in the future.”

In other business, the council unanimously approved an appropriation of $3,300 from a seized asset fund for the sheriff’s department to equip eight new Ford Explorer Interceptor vehicles with towing packages.

“You cannot order the police inceptors with tow packages. It is not an option, because it is pursuit-rated. I guess they feel someone might try to tow a boat in a pursuit,” Sheriff Greg Ewing told the council.

The towing capacity is needed to haul four-wheel trailers used in search and rescue, speed monitoring trailers, mobile message boards, a junior police academy trailer and a firearms equipment trailer, the sheriff said.

“We need to outfit at least eight of those vehicles with the after-market tow package. Those will be administrative, supervisory level cars,” the sheriff said, and not involved in pursuits.

The council also approved more than $310,000 from the Vigo County Parks and Recreation budget and non-reverting funds for engineering and construction work on Fowler Park dam, work required by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, along with funding to establish restrooms, a shelter and parking area for the Dewey Point Trailhead at the Wabashiki State Fish & Wildlife Area.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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