County mulls $10.7M building projects PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Saturday, 07 June 2014 01:43
Commissioners are weighing more than $10.7 million in capital improvements needed at a handful of Wood County facilities.
The list of challenges includes an expansion project at the Wood County Justice Center and upgrades and renovations needed at Wood Haven Health Care, the county's residential care center for seniors which was built in 1971.
Commissioners have also discussed funding improvements at the Wood County Historical Museum and a county facility on Dunbridge Road, as well as separate building expansions sought by the health district and job and family services.
To be decided is how to pay for the upgrades - through cash, general obligation bonds or county treasurer bonds - as well as what must be done immediately and what might be put off.
Joe Fawcett, assistant county administrator, suggested using about half of the $10 million permanent improvement fund and filling in the rest with bonds, and if so, increasing a transfer into the fund next year to $1 million.
"Nobody likes to see the permanent improvement fund at 50 percent of its current value, but if there's no foreseeable big projects coming down the pipe, it's just going to go right back up," said Commissioner Joel Kuhlman. "That's the whole purpose anyway."
Commissioner Jim Carter and others pointed out that it's still a good time to borrow money.
"You're hearing everyday that the interest rates are not going to stay where they're at," Carter said.
The board agreed to meet and review capital projects in detail within the next few weeks.
"We're going to have to discuss this at some length, I'm sure," Carter said.
The most pressing decision is how much of the justice center expansion should be done now, Andrew Kalmar, county administrator, told commissioners.
"The big question you have to answer is, 'What do you want to do at the jail?'"
Various components of jail expansion have been pending for some time.
A driving force behind the project has been costs to house prisoners in other counties as the Wood County jail has remained at or near capacity. Those outside costs have exceeded six figures in recent years.
Wasylyshyn said Tuesday that while the state continues shifting people from state prisons to county jails, it's been months since he's paid to send inmates to other facilities.
The jail was its full capacity of 149 last weekend but dropped to 141 as of Tuesday, the sheriff reported.
"We're real close to that, but we have not been housing anyone out for several months."
Wasylyshyn said exceeding capacity is "cyclical," but other than during winter holidays, staff haven't been able to identify a pattern. He maintained the need for the additional beds.
"I think we're having a little bit of an anomaly the last few months, and again, we've had this happen before but it's never stayed that way."
Given that information, though, Kuhlman suggested some of the work could be postponed.
"The thing that's really working against the jail expansion, in my mind at least, is that we have not really been sending people away for the last couple months, so the immediate need for it is not where it was," Kuhlman said.
The original proposal was a more simple expansion of 60 additional beds at the jail for around $875,000. The project grew to $2.5 million when additional components were suggested, and even more was added Tuesday, bringing the requested sum to $3.5 million.
Among the increases included a change that would unify the electrical, boiler and chiller systems between new and existing wings, bringing the facility onto the same set-up.
"It's a totally different approach to the heating and cooling than what was originally presented," said Tim Hainen, facilities director for the county. "It's much more efficient and it will provide much more control over the conditions inside the buildings."
There have also been unexpected security upgrades required by the state, though about $50,000 may be alleviated by asking for a variance, said Garry McAnally of Wachtel and McAnally, the architecture firm designing the plans.
"That's been one of our frustrations, that we had a moving target," Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said of the security upgrades. "They originally told us what we needed to do, and each time we met with them ... they'd throw something else in that they wanted that they never mentioned at prior meetings. It was very frustrating."
The project cost is limited to construction and does not include some furnishings and architectural fees, McAnally said.
The cost sheet provided Tuesday now lists the 60-bed renovation at $1.6 million; utility work, $571,000; an additional 36-bed expansion in the mezzanine, $347,600; efficiency LED lighting, $28,300; and renovation of two medium-security dorm areas at $465,000 apiece that result in a net gain of 15 beds for female inmates.
Currently put on hold is a separate renovation of the booking area of the jail, estimated at $4.2 million.
Wood Haven needs about $3.3 million in improvements, originally estimated at $4 million. A possible funding structure could be $1 million from the PI fund; a 20-year, $1.6 million general-obligation bond, on which Wood Haven would make payments; and $700,000 in funds the facility has from the sale of some of its beds.
The necessary upgrades there include a new boiler, air-conditioning system, roof, refrigerator/freezer, and windows and doors. Also needed but not as immediately imperative is an indoor renovation.
"The good aspect of it is they should be spending a lot less on utilities after these are all done," Kuhlman said.
"It's just a shame they're all due at the same time," Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said.
The museum is looking to make accessibility upgrades totaling $1 million, for which it has received $600,000 state funding. Commissioners will likely fund a portion, while paying for the rest up front and the museum making payments.
The Dunbridge Road facility, where economic development and OSU Extension offices are located, needs heating and cooling work estimated at $100,000. The building projects for JFS and the health district total $1 million and $2.4 million respectively. The information provided Tuesday suggested the county treasurer may issue a 25-year bond for JFS, while a general obligation bond could pay for the health district expansion.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 June 2014 02:33
 

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