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Bonds sold to help fund new Johnson County Courthouse and Medical Examiner Facility

Bonds to fund construction of the new Johnson County Courthouse and the county’s first ever medical examiner facility have been sold.

The sale of the Series 2018A bonds, totaling $148.6 million, was unanimously approved Thursday, Aug. 9, by the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in its role as the county’s Public Building Commission (PBC). The reoffering premium the PBC received from the sale of the bonds, as well as public safety sales tax receipts, will fund the remaining portion of the projects.

The bonds were sold to Wells Fargo Bank with a true interest rate of 2.39 percent. Prior to the sale, the PBC lease purchase revenue bonds received a triple-A rating from both Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service.

Most of the Series 2018A bonds will finance the construction of the new courthouse in downtown Olathe. It is being built across Santa Fe Street to the north of the existing courthouse. The bonds will also be used to build the new medical examiner facility. That project will be constructed south of the Criminalistics Laboratory of the Sheriff’s Office on the Johnson County Government campus at 119th Street and Ridgeview Road.

Johnson County has long studied the need for its own medical examiner facility for autopsies and death investigations. Autopsies in Johnson County are now conducted at a private medical facility in Kansas City, Kansas. The county now averages more than 250 to 300 autopsies per year.

The BOCC is required to appoint a coroner to serve the Tenth Judicial District, serving all of Johnson County. Dr. Robert Prosser has been the county’s coroner since 1998. The district coroner is a state statutory position in each of the 31 judicial districts in Kansas. By law, the coroner is mandated to establish the cause of death, such as by fatal injury or disease, and manner of death, such as circumstances that include accident, natural causes, suicide and homicide. The death of a child always requires an autopsy.

While construction of the courthouse has already started, building of the medical examiner facility is expected to get underway by the end of the year. PGAV Architects is leading the design phase for the project. McCarthy Building Companies is providing pre-construction services.

On Oct. 11, the BOCC in its role as the Board of Public Health is scheduled to review the proposed design of the project consisting of a 32,000-square-foot, single-story building.

The final steps will involve the PBC setting a guaranteed maximum price contract amendment with McCarthy Building Companies for construction. That action is expected to take place in November with the anticipation of having a groundbreaking ceremony in December.

The medical examiner facility will take approximately one year to construct with occupancy in 2020. Substantial completion of the new 28-courtroom courthouse is scheduled for late 2020 with occupancy in 2021.

Both projects are being funded by the ¼-cent, 10-year public safety sales tax question approved by Johnson County voters in the November 2016 elections.