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Washington County Commission outline $14.2M in repairs

The scope of work at the Washington County Courthouse will be around $7.4 million. (Photo by Nancy Taylor)

A long list of maintenance items involving the County Home, the County Courthouse and the Children Services building on Davis Avenue will be getting $14.2 million worth of repairs and refurbishing in coming months.

Washington County Commissioners say it’s a good time to address the needs and eliminate repeated repairs that cost the county quite a bit of money in past years. There also will be future savings in terms of water conservation and energy efficiency after several of the projects are finished.

A resolution authorizing the issue and sale of bonds, in accordance with Ohio Revised Code, was passed by the county commission in August. It will allow the lender, Wesbanco, to deal with bonds associated with loaning Washington County the $14.2 million.

But commissioners stress the commission itself is not involved with handling bonds in any way. From their side, the money is a 3.95% loan from the bank that is going to be repaid over a 15-year period using existing property tax revenues. In other words, there is no additional levy on property owners, no increases in taxes to handle the debt.

“Absolutely, we will dedicate a part of existing tax revenue,” Commissioners’ Financial Clerk Ben Cowdery said. “This will get paid out of already-paid property taxes.”

The scope of work at the Washington County Children Services building will be around $3.1 million. (Photo by Nancy Taylor)

The loan rate was good, Commissioner Kevin Ritter said, and it could be a much higher rate in the future.

Funding money is also flowing more freely since COVID events, he said, and some of the costs may be able to be offset with available state dollars.

“It’s not a wealthy county,” he said. “Updates haven’t been possible for decades. But now seems like a good time to tackle some things.”

The county is contracting with Veregy, a Columbus firm that Commissioner James Booth calls “a no-risk construction engineer,” to handle all construction details from the start.

“There are no change orders,” Booth said. “They vet the bids and make sure the contractors are qualified in all required aspects,” he said, adding that Veregy has the performance and payment bonds, not the county.

The senior project developer at Veregy, Brian Gifford, said the company is committed to the commissioners’ goal that the vast majority of subcontractors be local contractors.

“But the important word to stress here is ‘qualified.’ If a bid does not meet all the performance requirements beforehand, the bid can’t be accepted,” he said.

Drawings are completed, Gifford said Thursday. The construction itself will probably start in the next 30 days and run through next year.

In conjunction with the many energy-related improvements planned, Veregy’s Washington County project proposal includes a five-year energy guarantee of $50,300 per year. Veregy also specifies that if any subcontractor is able to perform the work at less than bid price, the savings will be returned to Washington County.

The projects include:

¯ HVAC upgrades, all three sites: A large part of the project will involve Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning work, including replacement of existing equipment, mechanical equipment room replacement of sheet metal and piping as required, final connections on new equipment, and service updates of all existing exhaust fans.

“The HVAC at the courthouse is on its last legs,” County Commission President Charlie Schilling said. “It’s a constant cost to fix the breakdowns.”

Commissioner Booth added, “Some years the heating, ventilating and air conditioning breakdowns in various facilities have cost the county between $180,000 and $230,000.”

¯ Lighting upgrades, all three sites: Retrofit existing light tubes and bulbs with LED. Install kits to improve the appearance of long, iridescent light panels, or “troffers.” Install occupancy controls throughout.

¯ Building Automation System upgrades, all three sites: Install control systems to operate heating and cooling functions.

¯ Water conservation, all three sites: Replace toilets, urinals, lavatories and showerheads to incorporate water-saving modifications.

¯ Building envelope, all three sites: Install weatherstripping and sweeps on exterior doors, weatherstripping on windows, and insulation as needed on wall-to-ceiling connections and building penetrations.

¯ County Home: Install a new roof and inspect the supporting structural elements for deterioration. Officials say the county home has not had a new roof since 1976, and the roof has wind damage.

¯ Courthouse: Tear out the old jail on the second floor and provide 4,400 square feet of space for the county prosecutor’s office. Upgrade the county auditor’s office.

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