By MICHAEL P. CARVALHO
Specially Written for The Leader/Times
COUNTY — The Union County Board of County Commissioners adopted an ordinance to appropriate $16,750,000 for the Union County Government Complex Project during its bi-weekly meeting last Thursday.
This ordinance was introduced at the board’s March 25 meeting, when it was given its first reading. During last week’s meeting, the ordinance was then voted on and adopted by the board after the meeting was opened up for public comment on the ordinance. The $16.75 million will be appropriated from the capital improvement fund and capital surplus.
Bibi Taylor, director of the Union County Department of Finance, was on hand at the meeting to explain where exactly the funds are coming from and why this path was taken.
“The capital ordinance that is on for consideration this evening is being funded as a result of all of the ordinances that we have previously cancelled when projects were completed and we would close out the books. If those were funded, those pieces of the funded ordinances would lapse to capital surplus,” explained Ms. Taylor.
“And we’ve done that throughout the years in order to build up what is essentially a nest egg, so that way we don’t have to issue debt for projects,” continued Ms. Taylor.
Started in 2020, the Union County Government Complex Project involves consolidating the county’s administrative services into two new buildings that would be constructed on the site of the county’s motor vehicle services division in Elizabeth.
The Union County Improvement Authority is tasked with the planning, design and construction of the new county government complex at 61-99 West Grand Street. The project will allow the county to continue efforts to reduce its lease and overhead costs, while providing efficient service delivery for county residents.
Ms. Taylor added, “As the ordinance relates to the government complex, that project is anticipated to save approximately over $100 million as a result of coming out of leases.”
The original estimation for the project ranged from $100 million to $145 million and will allow the county to combine its government infrastructure into one complex.
“So, when we are issuing the debt for this project, the debt that we are authorizing is $120 million and we are using capital surplus and capital improvement funds in order to not have to issue debt for the additional $16.7 million associated with the project,” explained Ms. Taylor.
DIGroup Architecture, a New Brunswick-based firm, was awarded the design contract for what will be a two-building, 225,000-square-foot project to help consolidate the county’s footprint.
Ms. Taylor concluded by saying, “It’s actually sound financial practices so that we don’t have to issue debt and incur the interest associated with that component of the project.”
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