GENEVA – In a series of three votes, the Kane County Board Tuesday approved seeking $13.55 million in general obligation bonds to pay for the construction of a multi-use facility to include a new coroner’s office and morgue.
The series of votes were to authorize the construction; to authorize issuing the bonds to pay for the construction; and to set a public hearing on the bond sale.
The appropriation for the building is $13.2 million. The additional funds are to cover contingency costs, officials said.
The facility would be built at the Judicial Center campus at Peck Road and Route 38 and will also include storage space for the coroner’s records, the sheriff’s fleet maintenance facility, Office of Emergency Management and its vehicle storage, and Building Management Office and Work Space.
Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, said the deficiencies of the coroner’s office are well known, but so are the other facilities and their needs.
The actions were the culmination of 18 months of work to push the issue forward, he said.
“Employees have been patient with us in utilizing facilities that are somewhat sub-par,” Frasz said. “The construction season is upon us. We are moving forward on this. We can get the contract signed with our low bidder and … hopefully, a year from now, we’ll be cutting the ribbon.”
Kane County Coroner Rob Russell, who has long lobbied for a new facility, said the need has been ongoing for at least three decades.
“Obviously, I’m very excited about that,” Russell said, referring to the board’s support for the project and its financing.
“I think the real winners today are the families of the county’s dead and the employees. I’m very thankful to Drew and … and other county board members who really led the charge,” Russell said. “I may have started the charge, but i needed somebody to pick it up and roll with it. They were champions of this. This is something that was needed for a long time and it’s money well-spent.”
The board also voted to set a public hearing on the bonds at 4 p.m. March 24 at the Kane County Government Center, Building A, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva.
The public hearing is required to receive public comment as required by law.
The board’s vote also authorized the chairman to enter into a contract with R. C. Wegman Construction Company of Aurora for nearly $11.6 million.
The board’s action appropriated about $13.2 million for the project, including about $1.2 million from the county, which includes 4% contingency costs of nearly $462,000 for the project.
The bond issue, the Public Commission Fund and a state grant will all contribute to the project, officials said.
Board member Mohammad "Mo" Iqbal, D-Elgin, sought to change the resolution to reflect a contingency cost of 2% instead of 4%, saying the lower amount “should cover more than the unexpected.”
But his motion to amend died for lack of a second.
In addressing Iqbal’s remarks, Frasz countered that 4% is considered the “bottom of the barrel” in contingency funds, and often his projects can have 5% to 15% in contingency funds.
“If something comes up, staff does not have to go through the committee process,” Frasz said. “It allows a certain flexibility in the field for minor changes. Every construction project has hurdles.”
All three of the board's votes were unanimously in favor except for the motion that included the 4% contingency funding. Iqbal was the lone no vote on that one.
Without addressing or naming Iqbal, Vice Chairwoman of the board Angela Thomas, D-Aurora, said she appreciated that board members work collaboratively and address concerns with one another.
“I appreciate my colleagues’ desire to maintain costs,” Thomas said. “I personally, and many of us around this table, worked very hard collaboratively through the committee process. … I’ve seen how we come together to address concerns with one another. … We work out our problems before coming here for a final vote.”