JOLIET – With Republican Will County Board member Cory Singer casting the lone “no” vote, the board voted Thursday to sell millions in bonds to pay for upcoming major capital projects, including a new courthouse in downtown Joliet.
Before the vote, outgoing board member Steve Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, suggested increasing the bond from $225 million – as proposed earlier this month – to $275 million so county leaders have some cushion when budgeting the projects.
Under the plan, officials would issue staggered bonds through 2047 to pay for a Laraway Road sheriff’s facility, a county courthouse in Joliet and a health department building, all of which are inefficient and aging in their current state.
The design concept for a new courthouse was recently unveiled. The design calls for a new 10-story, 390,000-square-foot courthouse in downtown Joliet with a budget of $150 million to $160 million.
But Singer, of Frankfort, said county leaders need to “take a step back” and consider the big picture – that there are several capital projects and few dollars to go around.
“When you add up all the things we support, including all of the road and bridges projects that we want to do, the revenue is less than the projects,” Singer said. “I believe we are going to get to a point where we are going to regret having spent this kind of money.”
Singer said he believes there are less-expensive alternatives – such as building a single-story court facility for civil matters on a greenfield site away from downtown Joliet. He said he believes there is little support for the idea, but that it would save money for taxpayers.
Under the approved plan, county officials would build a $65 million to $75 million line of credit to pay for early “soft” costs associated with construction. Then officials would borrow money to pay for the sheriff’s complex, estimated at $20 million. The plan relies on several funding sources to pay back bonds over time.
In other news, the County Board approved:
• Waste Management of Illinois’ application for a 150-acre expansion of the Laraway Road landfill site with special conditions. The expansion reportedly will add about 10 years to the lifespan of the facility, which is expected to reach capacity in its current state in 2021.
• A resolution allowing county leaders to seek approval from the Illinois General Assembly for “quick take powers” to gain control of land needed to complete the road project at Weber Road and Interstate 55 in Romeoville from property owners. Lawmakers’ approval would allow the county to bypass potentially lengthy eminent domain court proceedings.
• A contract with the Hoffman Estates-based firm Leopardo Cos. to be the construction manager at-risk for the planned Laraway Road sheriff’s complex.
At-risk means the company would pay if the project goes over a guaranteed maximum price or the project is not completed in time.
• A special-use permit and zoning change that allows for a drug and alcohol addiction recovery home at 2319 Manhattan Road in Joliet Township.
The building previously was used as a day care center.