Letter to the Editor: In the performance of my duties as McIntosh County Clerk, I (Deena Farrow) would like to inform our citizens of the upcoming improvements to the McIntosh County Courthouse.
Specifically, I write to inform the public to where the funding comes from to make these improvements.
A public trust was formed on April 24, 2006 called McIntosh County Public Facilities Authority (MCPFA) and holds the authority to be indebted for the project(s).
On May 9, 2006, the citizens of McIntosh County voted in favor of obtaining property for building, equipping, and the operating and maintaining a new County Jail and courthouse improvements by implementing a 20-year sales tax.
The County began levying a one-half cent (½¢) sales tax (the “Sales Tax Revenues”) and one-half cent (½¢) use tax (the “Use Tax Revenues”) pursuant to the proposition approved by the electorate on May 9, 2006 for the purposes of acquiring real property, constructing, equipping, operating and maintaining detention facilities and providing courthouse improvements for the County.
The levy of the Sales Tax Revenues and Use Tax Revenues shall continue through October 31, 2026, at which point three-fourths (3/4) of the one-half cent (½¢) sales tax and use tax shall cease to be collected.
The remaining one-eighth of one-cent (1/8¢) shall continue to be collected indefinitely or until repealed by a majority of voters voting at an election in the County.
The building of the county jail was completed and its debt was nearing the final payment. This allowed to enter the phase of “Courthouse Improvements” of the ballot.
The MCPFA held lengthy discussions regarding the Courthouse Improvements phase and found that the courthouse was built in 1926. It was remodeled in 1995 with no further significant improvements.
MCPFA further found the courthouse was structurally sound, but needing many repairs and updates. MCPFA and the Board of County Commissioners entertained and considered many ideas even as far as purchasing land and building a new courthouse.
It was found a new courthouse that would compare to the existing courthouse and repairs and updates needed would cost approximately $12,000,000 to 15,000,000, and also the May 9, 2006 ballot only provided for “courthouse improvements” and did not allow for purchasing land. They decided to repair and update the existing courthouse.
MCPFA voted in 2021 to begin the Courthouse Improvements phase. Realizing the amount of sales tax to be collected through 2026 may not fully fund the needs of the project, MCPFA requested from the Board of County Commissioners they allocate funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that had been received by McIntosh County to fund the remaining portion of the project that the sales tax will not fully cover.
At that time, there were tight restrictions on what and how the ARPA funds could be expended for. Parts of the plans for the courthouse improvements, such as the roof replacement and heat and air system, were qualified expenses of ARPA funds. The Board of County Commissioners agreed to allocate funding for a portion of the project.
The MCPFA signed a Sales Tax Revenue Bond for $4,530,000.00 for the projected sales tax that will be collected through October 2026. The ARPA funds projected to be used was between $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. The Courthouse Improvements Project is estimated to be $6,900,000.
Respectfully, Deena Farrow McIntosh County Clerk