Richland County commissioners capital expense

Richland County commissioners Tony Vero, Marilyn John and Darrell Banks meet on Tuesday afternoon with the Richland County Sheriff's Dept. Capt. Jim Sweat and Chuck Minich, the county's maintenance director.

MANSFIELD -- Richland County needs to set aside $250,000 to $300,000 in its budget each year for capital improvement projects, Commissioner Tony Vero said Tuesday.

That recommendation came during an afternoon commissioners' meeting with Chuck Minich, the county's maintenance director, and Richland County Sheriff's Dept. Capt. Jim Sweat.

The focus of the meeting was to discuss proposed capital improvement projects for the next five years, the total price tag for which outstrips the current $1.4 million commissioners have left in their redevelopment fund.

That total is what's left since commissioners approved $498,000 in late May for new voting machines for the county. Vero estimated capital projects could cost as much as $3 million between 2019 and 2023.

"We don't have the money currently to pay (for all of the projects), but we have time to save," Vero said.

The most expensive item remains a renovation, upgrade and relocation of various aspects of the sheriff's department -- including the 9-1-1 dispatch center, emergency operations center and road patrol -- within the Peoples Community Center.

The proposal to remodel and redesign the space would cover about 4,300 square feet and link the three sections of the sheriff's department, while also allowing room for future expansion if needed.

When the topic was broached four months ago, the projected cost to the county was $1.2 million, with the sheriff's department covering about about $150,000 of the project from 911 funds it receives from the state.

During discussions Tuesday, with modifications to the plan, the cost to the county's capital fund for the work has been reduced to between $575,000-$600,000.

Minich then went over a list of completed and ongoing projects at various county-owned sites. He also had a list of proposed projects, though commissioners asked for additional information regarding what current projects have been paid for and which ones are still pending.

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The capital expense spending comes just before commissioners begin in earnest the task of squaring 2020 department budget requests with estimated revenues.

In July, commissioners Thursday approved a 2020 tax budget that includes $32 million in estimated revenue with $36.4 million in spending requests.

The tax budget is just a framework and the work toward balancing the final budget will not be complete until this fall.

The $4.4 million gap is smaller than the past two years at this point in the process. The gap was $6.2 million in the 2019 tax budget and $7.6 million in 2018.

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