ROCKINGHAM — The county will be switching institutions to finance its acquisition of the First Bank building on Fayetteville Road — First Bank.
The Richmond County Board of Commissioners initially awarded the financing bid to BB&T.
After complying with a phase 1 environmental study, County Manager Rick Sago said the bank had imposed a second study that would have cost around $8,000 and would have taken up several more weeks in the process.
“We just didn’t feel like it was necessary to spend the money and delay the closing,” he told commissioners during a special meeting Wednesday.
Commissioner Don Bryant said, from a landscaping point of view, there was never any problem with the soil.
Sago said that First Bank had offered to match BB& T’s proposed financing of the $1.7 million loan at 2.24 percent for 15 years.
When the announcement of the purchase was made in December of 2014, First Bank had offered to finance the purchase at 2.45 percent for 20 years.
However, the county had seek bids from other banks to ensure the lowest interest rate possible.
Commissioners voted unanimously — aside from Jimmy Capps who wasn’t present — in favor of a resolution approving the substituted lender and revised financing and documents.
The resolution now goes to the Local Government Commission Board for consideration at it’s Oct. 4 meeting.
Dedicated in 1934, the current administration building on Hancock Street is showing signs of age. Asbestos pipe insulation crisscrosses the ceiling of the basement boiler room. The cooling system was installed in 1963 and the elevators need $60,000 in upgrades before a maintenance company will agree to sign a repair contract.
“This building’s a sick building,” Chairman Kenneth Robinette said nearly two years ago, when commissioners made the decision to purchase the First Bank property. He also compared upgrading the facility to “putting lipstick on a pig.”
“You’re talking about antiquated equipment that we’ve got to beg people to come work on,” Sago said. “It’s inefficient and it’s expensive.”
The bank building’s drive-through would remain in operation, but instead of accepting deposits and dispensing cash, it will allow county water and sewer customers to pay their bills without having to get out of the car.
Sago and Robinette said commissioners have wanted a new facility to consolidate county services for more than 15 years. The First Bank site would house the administration, veterans’ services, finance, tax, building inspections, GIS and water collections departments.
Sago said in 2014 that the county would only have to spend $50,000 to $75,000 to “upfit” the facility by adding some new interior walls.
He added there would be an estimated $26,500 savings in utility costs with the First Bank branch built in the mid-2000s. An additional $20,500 in elevator maintenance contract costs could be trimmed from the budget.
“There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a net savings,” Sago said.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.