County to expand government center in Noblesville

November 13, 2013
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Hamilton County commissioners plan to expand the Judicial & Government Center in downtown Noblesville, easing a space crunch and keeping county offices on the courthouse square.

The three-member elected board evaluated four options before reaching a consensus, Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said Tuesday.

As IBJ reported in June, one of the possibilities was a mass exodus to county-owned land east of State Road 37.

“We determined we wanted to stay here in downtown Noblesville,” Heirbrandt said. “It makes sense to have one-stop shopping, so to speak. It’s a convenience for citizens.”

Now officials have to figure out the scope of the project—and how to pay for it.

State law requires a taxpayer referendum to authorize capital projects that exceed $12 million. But it’s not clear if that limit would apply to a project not funded entirely with debt.

The County Council this fall signed off on four general obligation bonds (all just under the $12 million limit) that will be sold to fund a $47 million backlog in projects. The bonds replace decades-old debt that will be repaid this year and next year, keeping the county’s tax rate stable.

Commissioners asked the council to hold off on issuing a fifth bond, $11.5 million tentatively earmarked for the office expansion, until they finalize their proposal—and get a legal interpretation on the referendum requirement.

“I don’t believe we can add on for under $12 million,” Commission President Steve Dillinger said Tuesday.

The current facility, built in 1992, was designed with expansion in mind. Preliminary plans call for adding on to the west side of the building.

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