County commissioners debate budget requests for 2019

Wood County Office Building in Bowling Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

As the Wood County Commissioners Office works on its budget for 2019, some of the funding requests were debated on Tuesday. Should the county pay an extra $67,800 to have the airport runway striped? Is $43,000 an acceptable amount to pay for a mower/snowblower? And what about that $46,980 for high-speed garage doors for the county parking garage?

Commissioners Doris Herringshaw, Ted Bowlus and Craig LaHote were presented with the funding requests that weren’t slam dunks in the 2019 budget. Much of the budget is routine each year – wages and operational costs. So that leaves the “extras” for the commissioners to decide.

For example, the Wood County Regional Airport, which normally gets $26,345 a year from the county, requested an additional $67,800 for runway striping.

“It’s been a considerable amount of time since the commissioners gave them additional money,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said.

The runways recently received a low rating by the Ohio Department of Transportation, but was then turned down for a grant from ODOT for the striping, Kalmar said.

The airport has also requested funding from the FAA, though no word has been heard on that request, Kalmar said.

LaHote said the poor rating of the airport runways could have an economic impact on the airport, if fewer planes use the facility.

Bowlus suggested that the county wait to see if the FAA may fund the work. Kalmar was asked to get more information before a decision was made.

The commissioners agreed to fund the request for an industrial mower with a snowblower costing $43,149 for the East Gypsy Lane Road complex – though it was not without discussion.

“I’m always aghast at the price” of such equipment, Kalmar said. “I grit my teeth. But they do last a long time.”

In defense of the price tag, he said the mower/blower would be used year-round, and would have a cab with heat and air conditioning. That description led to the commissioners reminiscing about the days of hats and sunscreen.

LaHote reasoned that the equipment is needed. “It’s a busy area over there and it’s getting busier.”

Not making the cut on Tuesday was the proposal for two high-speed garage doors for the garage under the county office building. The cost was set at $46,980. The doors there now take about 19 seconds to rise, Kalmar said.

Adding to the cost of the doors is the fact that the doors would have to be raised on the outside of the building since there is no room for the doors to retract into the garage, he explained.

Kalmar and assistant administrator Kelly O’Boyle were sent back to the drawing board to find less expensive replacement doors.

At the request of Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, the commissioners went along with the request for $15,995 to purchase an ID card reader, plus ID cards for county employees. The cards will also work as key fobs for employees.

The commissioners agreed that the ID cards should be required for all county employees – except in the case of other elected officials who will decide whether or not their staffs will use the ID cards.

The commissioners also approved the request from Wood County Emergency Management Agency Director Brad Gilbert for $23,000 to help fund a “Code Red” program, which would have the ability to send emergency messages to every cell phone in the county.

Several other emergency response agencies in the county already use or are interested in joining the “Code Red” program – which would help spread the costs.

The request for $163,241 from the county engineer’s office for the stormwater program was cut back to $150,000 by the commissioners. Though the program keeps one staff person very busy, the commissioners felt a vehicle for the stormwater surveying could be purchased for less than $40,000.

The commissioners rejected a request from Wood County Engineer John Musteric to move $350,000 from a fund for road repairs by the solar field on Carter Road, to a general road maintenance fund.

The $350,000 was given by the solar field developer for road repairs near the solar project.

“I think we ought to keep it in that account, just in case,” Herringshaw said.

Some staffing decisions were also discussed but not yet resolved.

Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn has requested $64,596 annually to fund the new position of assistant 911 director. And some shifts in funding were requested by Job and Family Services since the investigator in the prosecutor’s office no longer spends as much time on JFS cases.

The possibility of a salary study in the Wood County Board of Elections was also considered.

The commissioners did approve the request from Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson for $75,000 to help fund the ARC program that works with opiate addicts and families. The state grant funding is no longer available.

“It’s an important program,” LaHote said.

“It’s worth is,” Herringshaw added.

Though not among the issues discussed Tuesday, one of the larger capital improvements next year will likely be at the jail. The commissioners want to proceed with an expansion to the booking area, but have not yet decided if more female beds should be added at the jail.

Further budget discussions will continue, with numbers – including the raises for county employees – being firmed up next month.

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