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Cumberland County can loan itself the $1.6 million needed to build a new addition to the county’s archives facility on First St., County Finance Director Nathan Brock told the debt management committee.

“My thought would be a short-term capital outlay note to generate the $1.6 million,” Brock said at the meeting Dec. 3. “We would put that in a capital projects fund all to its self. We want to make sure these funds are always identified.”

The facility maintains records required to be maintained by state law as well as a genealogy center and collections of Cumberland County’s communities and families. 

Housed in what was once the Crossville First Baptist Church, the facility has been in need of repairs for several years. There have been problems with plumbing, drainage, and windows. 

In October, the county’s building and grounds committee recommended moving forward with a renovation project. The budget committee approved the project in November.

The county has about $14.6 million in its debt service fund balance. These funds come from the property tax allocated to pay the county’s debt — .2425 on the county’s $1.5653 tax rate.

The county budgets for 5% interest on its variable interest rate loans, though interest rates typically come in far below that number. Currently, variable rate loans are paying about 1% interest, according to Scott Gibson with Cumberland Securities.

The county can be repaid using revenue from records fees designated for county record storage and upkeep. Fees include additional charges for marriage licenses, business licenses, vehicle tag renewals and documents filed with the clerk of each court.

The fees were implemented in October 2018 and generated about $72,000 in revenue that first fiscal year, which was less than 12 months. 

Last year, the fees brought in $88,500 in revenue, though several of the offices that collect the fee were impacted by shutdowns due to the COVID-19 virus. 

In the first three months of the current fiscal year, about $24,400 has been collected.

“It’s close to $100,000 a year,” Brock said. 

There have been some funds used on maintenance projects and work to prepare for the upcoming renovation, explained Rebecca Stone, 3rd District commissioner. 

A portion of the fees could be set aside for maintenance each year.

Brock said, “My recommendation would be to transfer $75,000 at the end of the fiscal year as payment toward the renovation.”

That would provide a 21-year payment plan, with no interest charged because it’s an internal transfer, he said. 

“As these fees continue, that the budget committee or the debt management committee would review that on an annual basis and set up what that transfer would be each fiscal year,” Brock said. “That way you’re servicing the debt and you’re using those funds to take care of the facility, which was the purpose those fees were enacted, and you’re leaving a little bit to take care of maintenance.”

The project, scheduled to begin as early as next spring, would demolish the three-story portion of the archives that was added on to the old church building. That would be replaced by a two-story, 7,120-square-foot addition. 

The basement would provide storage for county departments to utilize as necessary, with flexible storage arrangements based on current need.

The top floor will be dedicated to archival storage and a workroom for archives volunteers. 

The workroom will have small windows to allow some natural light into the building, though not so much to jeopardize record preservation. 

The vault could eventually use high-capacity shelves, though that is not part of the initial project. However, the tracks for these shelves can be installed during construction to provide for that enhancement later. 

There will also be a room where the public can view records. 

The exterior will include masonry with Crab Orchard Stone, like is used on the original part of the church, and brick. 

An existing utility pole will be relocated, simplifying the demolition process. 

The proposed budget includes $90,000 for hazardous materials abatement, $150,000 for demolition, $40,000 for site development, $74,300 in architectural and consultant fees and $1.2 million for construction.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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