A long list of maintenance items that includes the county home, county courthouse and children’s services building on Davis Street will get $14.2 million in repairs and renovations in the coming months.
Washington County commissioners say the time is right to meet the needs and ditch the frequent repairs that have cost the county so much money in years past. There will also be future savings in terms of water conservation and energy efficiency after the completion of several projects.
A resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of bonds, in accordance with a revised Ohio law, was passed by a county commission in August. The lender, Whispanco, will be allowed to handle bonds linked to Washington County’s $14.2 million lending.
But the commissioners stress that the Commission itself is not involved in dealing with the bonds in any way. For their part, the money is a 3.95% loan from the bank that will be repaid over 15 years using existing property tax revenues. In other words, there is no surcharge for landlords, and no tax increases to deal with debt.
“Sure, we will allocate a portion of the current tax revenue,” The Commissioners’ financial clerk Ben Cowdery said. “This will be paid from property taxes already paid.”
Commissioner Kevin Ritter said the loan rate was good, and could be a much higher rate in the future.
Funding money has also been flowing more freely since the COVID events, he said, and it may be possible to offset some of the costs with available state dollars.
‘It’s not a rich county’ He said. “Updates weren’t possible decades ago. But now seems like a good time to tackle a few things.”
The county contracts with Veregy, a Columbus company contacted by Commissioner James Booth “Structural Engineer Without Risks,” To handle all construction details from the start.
“There are no change orders,” Booth said. “They examine the bids and ensure that the contractors are qualified in all aspects required,” He said, adding that Veregy has the bonds for performance and repayment, not the province.
Veregy’s senior project developer, Brian Gifford, said the company is committed to the mandated goal of having the vast majority of subcontractors be local contractors.
But the important word to stress here is “qualified”. If the bid does not satisfy all performance requirements in advance, the bid cannot be accepted.” He said.
Gifford said Thursday that the drawings have been completed. The construction itself will likely begin in the next 30 days and continue through the next year.
In conjunction with several planned energy-related improvements, the Washington Ferrigi County project proposal includes a five-year energy guarantee of $50,300 annually. Veregy also specifies that if any subcontractor is able to perform work for less than the bid price, the savings will be returned to Washington County.
¯ HVAC upgrades, all three locations: Much of the project will involve HVAC work, including replacement of existing equipment, replacement of sheet metal and tubing for mechanical equipment room as needed, final connections on new equipment, and service updates of all existing exhaust fans.
“The courtroom’s HVAC system is in full swing,” County Commission Chairman Charlie Schilling said. “It’s a fixed cost to fix a breakdown.”
The booth commissioner added, “In some years, HVAC malfunctions at various facilities have cost the county between $180,000 and $230,000.”
¯ Lighting upgrades, all three locations: Modify existing LED light tubes and lights. Install kits to enhance the look of long iridescent light panels, or “Winners”. Install occupancy controls throughout.
¯ Building Automation System Upgrades, All Three Locations: Install control systems to operate heating and cooling functions.
¯ Water conservation, all three locations: Replace latrines, urinals, latrines and shower heads for water-saving modifications.
¯ Building envelope, all three locations: Install weather barrier and sweepers on exterior doors, weather interceptors on windows, and insulation as needed on wall-to-ceiling connections and building penetrations.
¯ Main District: Install a new roof and inspect the supporting structural elements for damage. Officials say the county home hasn’t had a new roof since 1976, and the roof has wind damage.
¯ Court: Uproot the old prison on the second floor and provide 4,400 square feet of space for the district attorney’s office. Upgrade the county auditor’s office.