Bond for Warner Robins LEC nearly final; first cost estimate for health clinic given

WARNER ROBINS -- The remaining funding for the Warner Robins Law Enforcement Center should be available next week, according to a resolution the Redevelopment Agency board approved Monday.

The board voted unanimously to approve a supplemental bond resolution for $4.45 million ahead of funds from the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax at its regular monthly meeting. The board also heard the first estimated cost of a health clinic on the north side of town and elected new officers.

After the meeting, Chairman Bill Douglas and acting Secretary Warren Faircloth signed a bond agreement with Wells Fargo that sets the interest rate for the LEC bond at 1.69 percent, below the maximum 3 percent the board approved in April.

To this point, the project has been paid for with $5 million from the 2006 special purpose local option sales tax. Gary Lee, executive director of the Redevelopment Agency, said funds for the city’s biggest active project have been depleted to about $1 million.

The bond that the RDA approved Monday is a way to fill the funding gap ahead of the generation of the 2012 SPLOST funds that taxpayers approved in March.

Repayment of the bond will begin March 2013, according to the resolution.

“That’s when the funds would be available from the SPLOST,” Douglas said.

Douglas’s signing of the bond resolution will likely be his last act as chairman.

The board members passed a bylaws amendment Monday that sets the chairman and vice chairman terms to one year, beginning Aug. 1.

They then voted Randy Meade as upcoming chairman and Doug Hayes as upcoming vice chairman.

Douglas has been the chairman since City Council removed themselves from the board last year and appointed residents to it.

“You have set our course,” Lee said.

Mark Baker, the city’s purchasing agent, told the board the cost of a health clinic in Northgate Plaza could cost more than $1 million for upgrading the building and equipment.

The proposed health clinic is purely in its planning stages, according to Lee. A time line for the project has not been set, he said.

So far, the plans are for Wayne Lowe to donate the building, the city to bring it up to code and Houston Healthcare to equip and run the clinic.

Baker estimated it would cost between $500,000 to $700,000 to update the 4,000-square-foot building.

The focus of the project is “not only to fix the building but to fix the area,” Lee told the board, adding it’s the oldest area of the city.

“There are a lot of people in the area that have no means of transportation, except to walk or a bicycle,” Baker said. “That side of town needs this.”

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.