By Donna Carver
November 19, 2013
At the Monday November 4, 2013 elected officials meeting, Randy Bush county engineer, reported that Morrow County has received funds from the state to repair 6 bridges that are in great need of repair.
“The bad news is that we have a lot of bad bridges, the good news is that last Thursday it was announced that the state is starting a local bridge program.” said Bush.
He continued to explain that the state did a statewide study of bad bridges. They announced that out of the first 40 bridges with construction starting by next year, Morrow County received 6 structures out of the first 40. The cost will be 100 percent construction cost. The criteria for the first 40 were what were explained as “non controversial structures” meaning that there are no environmental or right of way issues. The other criteria were they could not replace any closed structures. “We have 13 closed structures but the ones they are replacing were very close to needing closed.” Bush explained.
Bush had applied for Issue One funds for a project that will be covered under this initiative and he is hoping to change those funds to a closed bridge on CR61 in Canaan Twp.
Commissioner Miller wanted to make clear that none of the funds for these projects come from the general fund, “this all comes from other sources of funding and has no affect on our current budget.” said Miller. He continued, “Out of the 40 counties to receive bridge repairs, Morrow County got the most of any other county.”
Commissioner Tom Harden thanked Bush for his efforts in working with the state for this project. “This is great for Morrow County.” said Harden.
Other topics included the county budget and certification.
“We met certification. What needs explained is that meeting certification doesn’t mean that we have our bills paid.” Commissioner Tom Whiston noted.
“From the commissioner’s perspective we got the last amount of casino money in for the year and the General Fund expenses are just over $700,000 that is to just meet bills. There is currently about $200,000 of fund available to pay towards that so that leaves us a half million dollars a short of meeting our expenses before the first of the year. That does not include any unforeseen expenses.
Meeting certification and having a “carry over” does not mean that we have paid our bills.” said Whiston. He continued “We are making progress and we will use the $200,000 as best we can.”
Other updates from the commissioners included the county is in the process of issuing the bonds for the courthouse and hopefully that will go well and we will get good rates but that will be 25 years of paying out a debt.
The no smoking policy at the courthouse grounds is going well.
Holiday scheduling for staff and closures was discussed. County offices will be closed on Thanksgiving and the day after. Christmas falls on a Wednesday so we will be closed the Dec, 25 but back open on the Thur. Dec. 26. Offices will be closed on Jan. 1 but will be open on Jan 2.
The elevator will be closed in the courthouse in December from Dec 10th for the rest of the month.
The Health Dept. open enrollment time is Nov 1 through the 21st and is open for enrollment for healthcare. If employees are already enrolled they only have to fill out paperwork if they are making changes. They will get a new prescription card after the first of the year. There is no cost increase.
Commissioner Dick Miller shared that he attended Congressman Pat Tiberi’s County Commissioner seminar. He distributed information about who to contact with specific issues in the Congressman’s offices.
Miller shared that he has been looking at aggregation of county electric and current savings is $37,000 dollars and he recently found another $5000 in savings.
Miller also explained that there are 35 property owners that have ditches that need cleaned out. He asked several question of the county prosecutor, treasurer and engineer, “The County has been working on this for quite a while. It is now about to go to bid. When the bid documents are issued and soil and water conservation determines how that expense is distributed. Do the property owners have the option to pay their portion in cash up front or put it onto their real estate taxes as a special ditch assessment? What would the difference be between the upfront paid and the balance of the contract where does that cash come from?”
Bush answered the ones that can pay upfront can the rest can go and the remaining is sold as bonds by the auditor. Over a period of time that amount is put on their taxes with interest
Charles Howland advised that the commissioners must hold a hearing on appropriations as to who is going to be charged with what. That is a right of the landowners and that can be challenged. He did not believe that it holds up the process of the ditch repair.
Howland asked about the progress of the bridge repair in Westfield Township that they have the quick take on that property.
County engineer Randy Bush shared that the right of way is cleared up now but that they are working on the Olentangy River Watershed permit.
County treasurer Tim Garry reported that we have a bond coming up for renewal that we bought from another entity. Garry is looking into if we can get a better deal.
Sheriff’s update, “budget wise we might be able to scrape by.” said Sheriff Brenneman.The jail isn’t going to make it by about $15,000. He reported that corrections officers are still working 12 hour shifts at the jail because they can’t find people to work. They will be losing an enforcement officer soon. Contract negotiations are also up now. He expressed that he continues to have safety concern because they are without lights in the parking lots.
It was announced that on Thur. Dec. 12 Morrow County Twp Association will be having their winter meeting at Handlebar Ranch at 6:30 p.m. Mr. Temple will be discussing new legislation for townships
The commissioners and Pat Davies attended a meeting at ODOT district 6 and they are planning to eliminate route 23 congested area in the Delaware area. It will affect Morrow Marion and Delaware counties. They have several meetings coming up. It won’t be within the next 2 years but they are looking for idea to eliminate the congestion. They want to build a connector route 23 over to I71.
Also discussed was the outlet mall at 36/37 by 2015. The commissioners have been told that one of the outlet malls will go in there. Commissioner Tom Whiston shared that the growth patterns projections show that we will overtake Delaware as Delaware growth is slowing. The need for safety services will increase. “We have revenue issues.” he said.