Freedom Twp. Trustees explain building delay

PEMBERVILLE – There is nothing to show for a levy passed in 2020 for a new maintenance building for Freedom Township.

Township residents approved a 1.75-mill 10-year levy two years ago for a maintenance building for township vehicles, office space and storage.

To date, there has been no visible signs of work on the project.

The 60 x 100-foot building would have cost $650,000 pre-pandemic but trustees doubled the amount requested in anticipation of higher costs.

The low bid for the structure was $1.265 million.

The levy will collect $1.3 million.

Trustee Kent Schuerman said he has spoken with Rudolph Libbe, who was the low bidder, to work on how to decrease the cost of the project.

“We’re not going to stop,” he said at a recent meeting. “We’re going to build the building we said we would build.”

Once the building is done, the money collected up to that point will be used toward a principal payment which will save the township on interest payments, Schuerman said.

To date, $270,000 has been collected, according to Trustee Dave Bruning.

Bruning said if the levy had passed on its first attempt, the building would be up.

Pemberville Mayor Carol Bailey said the results of the township’s two levies on the Nov. 8 ballot will show how people feel about this delay.

Resident Pam Peterson asked about the chance of the township will ask for additional operating money.

“That won’t happen while I’m here,” Schuerman said.

Trustee Rick Rahe said they should have sold the land immediately west of the current township offices, have someone else build the building, then buy it back.

The township, as a government entity, must follow certain guidelines.

In hindsight, the trustees were trying to follow the rules but if someone had a crystal ball, that decision would be so much easier to make, Schuerman said.

Rex Huffman, with the Wood County Port Authority, attended the meeting and told trustees his agency would pay for the issuance of bonds to fund the project.

“The effort you’ve shown on this, how can we not help you?” Huffman said.

He advised it would not be a good idea to wait to see if the cost of construction materials decline.