County Renovation Gets Good Response
The Fulton County commissioners received a favorable response to their plans to nix the construction of a multi-level office building and and instead renovate existing facilities, a project that could still result in a one-quarter mill tax increase for county residents.
At their most recent town meeting held last Tuesday at the Burnt Cabins Auction House, Commissioner Daniel Swain Jr. stated the Board of Commissioners still has a vision for the county, but it has been cut back due to the economy and proposed construction costs. The result is a minimal renovation project with hope that another group of commissioners somewhere down the road will add on to the county campus, Swain said.
Based on estimates from the architectural firm, construction costs for the proposed project could fall between $3.5 and $3.7 million. The commissioners have already received a total of $563,000 to help with the project and have applied for additional stimulus money. The status of those funds will not be known until later this summer.
The largest expense or portion of the project will fall under the construction of a geothermal loop, which will likely consist of 55 to 60 wells. Placement of the geothermal loop in the area of McConnell Park will also prohibit future growth or construction in that specific area.
As parking is an ongoing issue for county employees and individuals visiting county buildings, extra parking is also being addressed through the project. The renovation will also see county employees, such as those with domestic relations and probation, relocated to the western side of North Second Street into the basement of the Neighborhood Service Center. Meanwhile, Magisterial District Judge Wendy Mellott will move her office compliment to the domestic relations office.
The commissioners further noted they are investigating the possibility of erecting a walkway between the courthouse and the second floor of the sheriff's office. The bridge between the two facilities will provide for additional record storage as well as handicapped accessibility to the sheriff's office and a meeting area for attorneys and clients. Furthermore, the jail located on the first floor of the facility will be made handicapped accessible through upgrades.
Swain stated a year ago when the commissioners last met with residents from northern Fulton County their hopes had been to only raise taxes up to one-quarter mill. They are remaining in that same ballpark in their millage projections based on their concerns of the economy, said Swain.
"We're doing what we think is the bare minimum," said Swain. "There have been some needs that were not met over the years."
Other details briefly touched on include underground water retention, making efforts to save the Polly Waters rose bush at the jail, landscaping, the future of Annex 1 and project financing that will be in the area of $3.7 million. Swain added the commissioners are preparing to bid out the renovation project and will begin relocating some employees in the very near future.
Burnt Cabins resident Bobby Hall noted issues such as these all come back to a local level and being feasible. Hall concluded residents from his village would probably prefer to pay for a millage hike to support the county's project than the sewer project being proposed by the Dublin Township Board of Supervisors.