By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE — After approving paying the $600,000 tap-in fee to New Madison for Fort Jefferson at a recent meeting, the Darke County Commissioners are now moving forward with a study to determine the boundaries and homes included in the Fort Jefferson part of the sewer district.
At their regular meeting on Thursday, July 20, Commissioners Matt Aultman and Larry Holmes approved an agreement with Access Engineering Solutions to complete the Fort Jefferson Sewer System study. Commissioner Marshal Combs wasn’t present. The cost of the study is not to exceed $25,000, but the county received a grant for $25,000 from the Ohio EPA. He expects the cost to be under the $25,000 total. Any unused funds will go back to the EPA. Aultman said the study is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Once the county has the study in-hand, they will be able to move onto the next step in the process.
As previously reported, Fort Jefferson was initially included in the Wayne Lakes sewer project, but because of factors that would be beneficial to residents in Fort Jefferson, it was removed to be a standalone project. Since the sewer line will tie into Wayne Lakes line that goes to New Madison, the county agreed to pay the tap-in fee early to New Madison so they would have the funding to work on one of their projects.
Commissioners also approved a fund transfer of $600,000 from the general fund to the capital improvement fund. The funds for capital improvements come from real estate taxes from property owners in the county and the county usually waits until the mid-year real estate taxes are received before transferring the funds into the capital improvement fund. According to Aultman, the county receives approximately six to seven percent of the tax bill. The remaining 93-94 percent goes to school district, fire districts, parks, etc.
After approving the transfer to capital improvements, the commissioners approved approximately $2.6 million to be appropriated for permanent improvements. Aultman stressed the county generally estimates the cost for the improvements to error on the high side.
Some of the permanent improvements that need to be made include an extension of the parking lot at the Darke County Government Center on Garst Avenue, which houses the Juvenile/Probate Court, Board of Elections and Darke County Health Department. The county is planning on extending the parking lot into the grassy area west of the building. “It’s been a parking issue out there for years,” Aultman said. They are also looking at upgrading emergency exits, upgrading the back-up generator due to vaccines that are held by the health department and upgrading the heating and cooling system at the Garst location. The county will possibly crack seal the driveways at the Sheriff’s Office and tuck-pointing the courthouse, as well as restoration and weather proofing the county’s facilities.
For several years, the county commissioners have been trying to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to building maintenance. Much of that has been possible by dedicating capital improvement funds each year. For larger projects, the county will carry over funds from year-to-year in order to be able to afford projects.
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].