After months of meetings with architects, Texas Historical Commission officials and others, the Mason County Commissioners' Court voted Monday to approve a financing option that will enable them to begin the renovations to the century-old Mason County courthouse.
Mason County has already received an emergency renovation grant from the Texas Historical Commission that specifically targets the roof and the electrical system in the building. That grant only provides about one third of the funds for a project that could, concievably, end up costing around $900,000, leaving the county responsible for the remaining $600,000.
After examining numerous options for the county to obtain the money needed to finance its share of the project, the Commissioners' Court, at their final June meeting, voted to pursue the option of tax notes, leveraging their income from ad valorem taxes to pay off the debt. George Brannies of the Mason National Bank had appeared at that June meeting to discuss preliminary details of such a plan.
Brannies, along with The Commercial Bank president, Bobbie McMillan, was back at Monday's meeting. The two bankers were joined by representatives from Southwest Securities who laid out the documentation for the tax notes and discussed the county's responsibilities and obligations under the arrangement. Mason National Bank and The Commercial Bank will split the financing of the tax notes between the two institutions. Mason will obtain $600,000 for a seven-year term, at a very low interest rate and with no prepayment penalty.
Final details of the execution of the paperwork will be done by late July, and work could begin on the renovation project by the beginning of August. The scope of the project involves replacing the electrical junction systems in the attic and on the outside of the courthouse, and also requires the reroofing of the entire structure, including replacement of the clock tower. That part of the project will also require returning the dome, and the clock, to its historically accurate early version.