Commissioner Tom Horst responded on Wednesday during the weekly meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners to what he said was criticism regarding county.
He said the criticism was aimed at the county’s being unable to devote funds at this time to the purchase of two new vehicles for the sheriff’s office, but how the county is somehow able to put in the “humongous ramp” at the front of the county administrative building.
Horst said that the handicap ramp currently being built at the front of the building on Governor Foraker Place is being done with Capital Improvement funds from the state. That money can only be spent on the ramp, he said, and on nothing else.
He said the size of the ramp is dictated by requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act that stipulates a ramp must rise one inch per foot of ramp. The porch of the administrative building is about 77 inches tall, so to accommodate the requirements means that the ramp has to be at least 77 feet long.
Horst also said the money spent on the mural set to be painted on the wall of the porch of the administration building has also been criticized. The mural, he said, is funded wholly by private money with not a penny from the county coffers.
As previously reported, commissioners told Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera last week that a request for two vehicles for his office would have to wait until the budgets of the county departments could be reviewed. They also said that whether or not the 1.9-mill property tax levy for Children Services on the Nov. 8 ballot passes could impact the decision, too, as it will impact the county’s budget.
The current levy was designed to support about 60 children in foster care, but recent years have seen the number of children in foster care more than double from what the levy supports. Last year nearly $1 million extra was needed above what was appropriated for Children Services, and this year is looking to be about the same. If the levy passes then there would be more money to cover the costs of the children in foster care without having to pull funds from other county offices.
Commissioners said Wednesday that while there isn’t a decision yet on the purchase of new cruisers, they are looking at leasing options. Horst said the sheriff was “OK with that.”
Horst added that the sheriff’s office within the last week was given a cruiser from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, which takes its cars off the road at around 100,000 miles. The gifted cruiser has 105,000 miles on it, he said.
In other business, the county courthouse has been reappraised as it had been awhile since an appraisal had been done, according to commissioner Jeff Duncan.
Currently the building is insured for $2.64 million. To be able to replace the building following the current appraisal, the building needs to be insured for $7.57 million, which will cost the county an additional $3,403 per year on top of its current insurance costs. If the county chooses to insure the building with consideration for its historical value, the appraised value for reproduction is $12.95 million. If the county goes that route it will cost $7,122 in addition to current insurance costs for the building.
Duncan said the commissioners will come to a decision after more information has been gathered.
The Highland County Board of Commissioners meets each Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of the county administration building, 119 Governor Foraker Pl., Hillsboro. The meetings are open to the public.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.