Sauk County may loan the City of Baraboo its half of the funds required to construct a $4.6 million college science building.
“This hopefully is what people think of when they talk about intergovernmental cooperation,” said Sauk County Supervisor Jason Lane of Baraboo.
Lane pitched the proposal to city officials during a meeting Thursday. Those in attendance agreed to research the potential deal and discuss it further with their respective governing bodies.
The city and county jointly own the University of Wisconsin-Sauk County/Baraboo campus and lease it to the UW System, which provides staff and programming. The college has included the new science building in its long-term plan.
The city and county both recently approved a $273,500 contract with a Sheboygan architectural firm for the design and placement of the building, which would replace current science facilities constructed in 1968.
During Thursday’s meeting, county officials initially proposed a 20-year interest rate of 3.5 percent, while city officials said they hoped for a rate closer to 3 percent.
The two parties settled on the idea of a 20-year loan with a 3.25 percent interest rate. The potential deal would allow the city to back out of the agreement after 10 years and pursue alternate financing.
After considering four funding alternatives for its half of the $4.6 million building, the Sauk County Board’s Finance Committee settled on an option in which the county would use fund balance to fund the entire project and the city would reimburse the county over a number of years.
Other funding options included the issuance of municipal bonds, a loan from the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, or a federal loan program designed to improve facilities in rural communities.
Sauk County Administrative Coordinator Kathy Schauf said the last option would only have been available to one entity. That means the two government bodies would have had to find a third-party owner, or one entity would have had to relinquish its share of the science building.
Sauk County Controller Kerry Beghin said the county has $28.1 million in its general fund, of which $10.6 million is available for spending.
“The general fund would remain at an acceptable level if it is used to fund the science building project,” Beghin said.
She also said the intergovernmental agreement would not count against the city as general obligation debt.
Baraboo City Administrator Ed Geick said city officials would have to evaluate payment schedules and discuss the matter further before reaching a decision.