JOLIET – The Will County Board voted Thursday to authorize the issuance of up to $275 million in bonds to fund capital projects.
According to an ordinance passed March 17, the public had 30 days to file a petition with the Will County Clerk’s Office for the bond issue to be put on the Nov. 8 ballot. But since there was no petition, the bonds were authorized to be issued. The original amount was $225 million.
A new Will County Courthouse, estimated to cost $150 million to $160 million, is one of the projects that would be funded with the bonds. Other projects include a northern satellite courthouse, a sheriff’s facility on Laraway Road and a health department.
With Thursday’s vote, the board passed an amended motion by Finance Committee Chair Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, to place a maximum interest rate not to exceed 6 percent on the bonds.
Board member Robert Howard, D-Beecher, noted that the Will County Forest Preserve District recently issued bonds in the 2 percent interest range. Fricilone replied that the bonds likely will be issued in the 2 percent range, but the board is required by law to create a rate not to exceed.
Jacqueline Traynere, D-Bolingbrook, said 6 percent seemed a little high. She expressed concern that if the bonds are issued after the November election, a new county board may not keep the interest rate low enough.
Will County Board Speaker Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, agreed with Fricilone.
“I suspect we’ll be at 2 percent when we issue the bonds,” Moustis said. “The law requires us to put a number there, so we have to put something there.”
To pay back bonds over 25 years, the county plans to use annually $1.5 million in courthouse fees, $300,000 from parking lot fees, $1 million from landfill fees, $2 million from Public Building Commission sales tax revenue and federal rebate dollars. The city of Joliet is also chipping in $10 million; the City Council has agreed to chip in $500,000 annually for 20 years for use on the courthouse as an incentive to keep it downtown.
In other news, the board honored Kurt Sangmeister, court administrator for the 12th Judicial Circuit, who is retiring after 21 years of service under five chief judges. Will County Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt commended Sangmeister for his ability to adapt to all situations and manage all types of people.
“Things ran so smoothly [under Sangmeister] I didn’t know exactly what he did until I became chief judge,” Schoenstedt said. “No one operated the court like him.”