Jackson County agrees to spend extra $420,000 on construction project


According to our partners at the Jackson Citizen Patriot, the extra cost of a new event center will cause other projects to go on hold in Jackson County.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to spend an additional $420,000 for the American 1 Events Center.

Although construction is already underway, the county must dip into its capital budget to cover a nearly half million dollar increase because of a boost in the economy and prices of supplies.

Originally the project was slated to cost $6 million with American 1 Credit Union paying the first $4 million. The county took out bonds to cover the balance and set the budget for Rockford Construction, but the number was never guaranteed as the maximum.

The new $6.42 million number is a guaranteed maximum, Parks Director Jeff Hovarter said earlier this month.

The event space is going on the southeast corner of the Jackson County Fairgrounds/Keeley Park, 200 W. Ganson St., and is slated to open in March 2020.

“It’s because the economy’s so good, it’s very straightforward,” Board Chairman James “Steve” Shotwell Jr. said. “Thank President Trump.”

Trump’s tariffs on steel and other supplies have also caused price problems, Hovarter said.

“On one hand, it’s a blessing our economy is so robust,” County Administrator/Controller Mike Overton said. “But, at the same time, not if you’re trying to build something.”

Multiple office rehabilitations scheduled for 2019 must be bumped to 2020 and beyond because of the fairgrounds project, Overton said. As the county adds probation officers and public defenders, it will have to find spaces to house them before it can build offices to accommodate the influxes, he said.

While commissioners didn’t discuss the budget dilemma during its Tuesday meeting, Commissioner David Elwell disputed claims that parks millage money is helping pay the $6.42 million price tag.

“That is a wrong, inaccurate statement,” Elwell said. “And it’s part of the reason that the misinformation is out there.”

A Jackson City Council report for its March 26 meeting said the millage funds were paying for the project. City Council was discussing the project, because it waived more than $50,000 in building and electrical permit fees.

“The City of Jackson stands by what was written in our City Council agenda packet, as it was based on information given to a city of Jackson official from a Jackson County official on how county park funds were being allocated,” said Jackson Public Information Officer Aaron Dimick, on behalf of city administration.

No parks millage money is being used to build the event center, Shotwell said. Funds may be used on the fairgrounds in the future, as the site has long been considered a county park – despite the recent name change back to “Keeley Park.”

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