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Center’s mortgage put to rest

Debt retired early, saving $2.7 million

OREGON – The Ogle County Board held an old-fashioned mortgage-burning Tuesday night with a newfangled twist.

“You can’t really burn anything indoors anymore, so we’ve got a shredder,” board Chairman Kim Gouker said with a grin as he waved a fistful of documents for the financing of the Ogle County Judicial Center.

The board agreed in November to pay off the $10.3 million debt remaining on the judicial center 10 years early, saving the county an estimated $2.7 million in interest.

The final payment was made Feb. 1.

Gouker invited former board Chairman Jerry Daws of Forreston to do the honors. Daws was chairman when the new judicial center was proposed, approved, planned, and built. It was completed in 2005 at a cost of $15 million.

“Jerry created the Long Range Planning Committee in 1998, and I was appointed chairman,” Gouker said. “He was the board chairman when we borrowed the money, and tonight we’re taking him off the hook.”

Daws smiled broadly as he ran the first batch of papers through the shredder. County board members were invited to follow suit.

After the shredding was completed, Daws praised the board for its accomplishment.

“I don’t think you can find today a government agency that can pay off anything, let alone early,” he said.

The money used to pay for the judicial center bonds came from the Long Range Planning Fund, which was designated by the County Board several years ago for major, one-time only expenses that will benefit multiple departments, for land purchases, and for building projects.

Revenues in the fund comes from host fees paid to the county by garbage companies to dump refuse in the county’s landfills. That amounts to about $3 million a year.

Also Tuesday, the board postponed voting on a proposal to merge the Lee-Ogle and Whiteside Regional Offices of Education until its March 15 meeting.

Approval of the consolidation takes the blessing of all three county boards. 

Gouker said the measure was presented to the other two county boards this month, and both held it over for next month.

“There are no issues. We just want to take the time to let all three county boards consider it fully before voting,” Gouker said.

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