Borrowed money may pay for county projects

STEUBENVILLE — Jefferson County commissioners are proceeding with a plan to borrow money internally to pay off several costly projects.

The commissioners are finishing work on the $3.5 million project at the Towers to install a new roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems throughout the building.

Commissioners also have faced expensive fixes at the Justice Center and courthouse, so they took out about $4 million in loans.

Some of the cost of the remaining work at the Towers and Justice Center will exceed the loan amount.

County Auditor E.J. Conn said the county could issue a bond and then purchase the bond as an investment, basically an internal loan.

Commissioner David Maple said there are certain funds flush with cash, such as the Workers’ Compensation Fund. The county received a large refund in the past couple years, but the money can only be used for projects which would be safety-related.

Conn said there are several questions the commissioners must answer before going forth with the bond issuance. Conn said the commissioners have to list the projects and the amount of each, the term of payments — which can’t exceed 10 years — and an interest rate comparable with current market rates.

Conn said the money will be paid back into the general fund, because it would be considered an investment.

Maple and Commissioner Thomas Graham said the commissioners will meet in a work-shop session after next Thursday’s meeting to go over the questions raised by Conn.

Mike Warren of the county auditor’s office said the bond issuance won’t take as long as if it was being sold on the public market.

Commissioners were updated on the pending Amsterdam sewer project, which has been delayed in going to bid because rights-of-way have not been signed by property owners.

Tom Hartwig of Arcadis, the county’s engineering consultant, said some of the sewer lines have been relocated due to four property owners refusing to sign easements. Commissioners signed eight more easements on Thursday.

Hartwig said Arcadis employees and county water and sewer department workers have been meeting with property owners about the easements. He expects about 80 percent of the easements to be obtained in the next several weeks. The county will then have to begin eminent domain proceedings for the remainder.

About 400 homes will be serviced with the sewer system, with about one-fourth in Carroll County. The sewer system is needed because of faulty septic tanks, said Michael Eroshevich, county water and sewer department director. Raw sewage is being dumped into Yellow Creek.

Eroshevich said the project will cost about $11 million, with the county receiving about 70 percent of the cost in the form of grants.

Commissioners opened three bids for building improvements at the county Developmental Disabilities campus.

Mike Zinno, county developmental disabilities superintendent, said said the workshop building off John Scott Highway will be renovated and the training facility on Cherry Avenue will be phased out. Additional offices will be constructed or renovated. He said there were plans in the original specifications for a community room to be built, but it has been scaled back because the first set of bids opened a month ago were more than the architect’s estimate.

The estimate this time was $1,070,000. Colaianni Construction of Dillonvale had the apparent low base bid of $1,055,000.

Commissioners also:

¯ Were informed the county’s liability insurance for the year through the County Risk Sharing Authority totals $306,773, about the same as last year.

¯ Approved attorney fees for indigent criminal defendants for April in the amount of $26,417.

¯ Agreed to allow juvenile court to purchase a trailer to be used in the community service and summer youth program at a cost of $1,493. Joseph Colabella, juvenile court administrator, said the trailer will be paid entirely through the Ohio Reclaim Funds.

¯ Opened one request for proposal for a Realtor to be the broker for leases in the Tower. Cedar One Realty of Wintersville submitted the only proposal. Commissioners will now negotiate a fee for the service.

¯ Were informed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services the county’s share for programs at the county job and family services totals $309,924 for the year.

¯ Announced the change to two upcoming meetings. The board will meet at 8 a.m. on May 3 and 9 a.m. on May 8.