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Lewis and Clark County takes on $650,000 in debt for city court upgrades
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Lewis and Clark County takes on $650,000 in debt for city court upgrades

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Law and Justice Center

The former Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Fuller Avenue is now the home of the new Law and Justice Center.

The Lewis and Clark County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday approved taking on $650,000 in debt for the city of Helena to use on improvements in the Law and Justice Center.

The Intercap Revolving Program loan through the state of Montana will go on the county's books, but the city is responsible for repaying the loan.

The improvements to the Law and Justice Center, which is jointly owned by the county and city, are tied to the newly carved out municipal courtroom.

The initial draw down of about $380,000 will be included in the county's fiscal year 2021 budget, according to Lewis and Clark County Finance Director Nancy Everson. Another draw down of a similar amount is set to occur at about this time in 2022.

Everson told the commissioners she expects the county will receive the money by June 11.

"The city moved forward with what is called an MEP report (mechanical, electrical and plumbing report) as well that took a look at different improvements that we need to make sure we pay attention to in that building to maintain it over both the short-term and the long-term," Lewis and Clark County Chief Administrative Officer Roger Baltz said. "These funds go toward all of those things."

In an email Friday, Helena spokesman Jacob Garcin confirmed the improvements are primarily related to mechanical, electrical and plumbing needs such as air handling units and a fire alarm system to be completed during the coming fiscal year.

"The loan will be used to improve the Law and Justice Center, which is jointly owned by the City and County," Garcin said. "The loan will be repaid by funds from maintenance charges, paid by both tenants. Historically this type of loan could be administered by either the City or County. The County offered to administer this loan."

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Local Government and Crime Reporter

Nolan Lister is a reporter at the Helena Independent Record with an emphasis on local government and crime.

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