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Commission tables engineer request for sales tax exception

Commissioner Jamie Booth taking notes during Thursday's meeting. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

A request from the county engineer was tabled during Thursday’s meeting of the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

Roger Wright sent a letter to the board this week asking for a one-time exception for Wesley and Newport townships to receive the 1 percent permissive sales tax in one installment instead of the usual three.

“This would allow the townships to have funds available to supplement the (Ohio Emergency Management Agency/Federal Emergency Management Agency) contribution in order to pay for the slip repairs and allow the township to maintain their limited budget,” the letter states.

He told commissioners Thursday the work that needs done is from 2018 landslips, but the projects are expensive.

“The estimates for both of those projects were around $1,700,000,” he explained.

He noted the exception is not typically done, but he asked the commission to look at the issue as being unique as it was a disaster declaration.

“But if you decide not to go forward, we will figure it out,” Wright added. “You just have to look at your own books and look at what you can or cannot do and how you can or cannot help.”

The engineer’s office got information on how much the projects would cost if they went out to bid now.

“We got about half the cost,” Wright noted. “One project was about $700,000 and that came in at like $500,000. The other project came in, actually ridiculously low, so it was about a million dollars and it came in about $450,000.”

The more costly project was discounted because the contractor was from one of the two townships, he remarked.

“There are 20 other townships that are going to make the same request if we approve these,” said Commission President Kevin Ritter. “Am I right in understanding that the townships can go to the treasurer of state and get a 12-month loan? Is that a possibility?”

Wright replied the request would just allow the townships to have a little more flexibility, but he can make alternatives work.

Commissioner Jamie Booth requested the issue be tabled until other alternatives could be researched.

In other commission business:

¯ Bid specifications for the County Road 25 guardrail replacement project were approved. The engineer’s estimate for the project was $348,195.

¯ An item was removed from unfinished business — a proposal to remove the Washington County Behavioral Health Board from insurance coverage by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.

The issue had been tabled for several weeks and when it was brought back to the floor, BHB Director David Brown said they would prefer to stay with the CORSA coverage.

After clarifications, the commissioners approved the BHB keeping CORSA insurance.

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