2010-09-09 / Front Page

Commissioners Weigh In On Construction Costs

Residents hear updates during Hustontown town meeting
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER

The Fulton County commissioners are hopeful a committee comprised of county residents will be able to raise sufficient funds needed to repair the courthouse pillars, bricks and roof in the future. Furthermore, the commissioners have reported they have been careful during renovations to not compromise the historic architecture of both the courthouse and jail. The Fulton County commissioners are hopeful a committee comprised of county residents will be able to raise sufficient funds needed to repair the courthouse pillars, bricks and roof in the future. Furthermore, the commissioners have reported they have been careful during renovations to not compromise the historic architecture of both the courthouse and jail. The current board of Fulton County commissioners announced they feel they are now paying the price for overlooked routine maintenance of county facilities.

During a town meeting held last Thursday evening at the Hustontown Firehall, Bonnie Mellott Keefer, chairperson of the Board of Commissioners, shared with those in attendance the current board’s policy is to fix what is broken.

As an example, Keefer touched on the western pillar on the front of the Fulton County Courthouse that has been repaired in the past but is still deteriorating quickly. The repairing of the pillars, roof and brickwork at the courthouse is a future project the commissioners have deemed a “big undertaking.”

Palmer Construction of McConnellsburg is overseeing the general construction portion of the county's “renovation, repair and maintenance” project. In addition to a new front porch, the sheriff's office (pictured far right) will see a ramp and overhead walkway installed to improve handicapped-accessibility to the two-story structure. Palmer Construction of McConnellsburg is overseeing the general construction portion of the county's “renovation, repair and maintenance” project. In addition to a new front porch, the sheriff's office (pictured far right) will see a ramp and overhead walkway installed to improve handicapped-accessibility to the two-story structure. Looking down the road, Commissioner David Hoover II noted he would like to see a committee formed and comprised of local residents to help raise sufficient funding to see the work completed. The project in its entirety has been estimated at between $750,000 and $1 million.

Moving on to the current “renovation, repair and maintenance” project, borrowing is recorded at $4.2 million even though the board’s prior vision was estimated at $7 million, Commissioner Hoover said.

“That’s not what the people need,” Hoover said of their original vision. He reiterated the board’s focus has been to keep millage rates at their current level without any spikes to fund the project. One mill in real estate tax revenue equates to $360,000.

One Hustontown man questioned the commissioners about how they intend to fund the ongoing project. Keefer pointed out several properties in the Fulton County Business Park will be taken out of the Keystone Opportunity Zone in 2011 just in time for their taxes to cover the county’s scheduled payments. The county is also expected to save money through few sewer hookups and other energy savings.

“We’ve looked at this carefully,” added Keefer. In conjunction with their talk on finances and taxes, the commissioners stated they are just initiating budget preparations for 2011, and they are unsure as to what to expect from either the state or federal level.

Locally, they are seeing prisoner boarding costs go through the roof due to the large number of individuals being housed. In addition, the retirement fund previously “tanked” along with the stock market, leaving the commissioners to make up a $1.2 million deficient in the retirement fund over the next five years.

The commissioners were, however, happy to report some funding may be available to help several financially strapped households on an annual basis with the expense of having their septic systems pumped in accordance with township ordinances. Residents of Ayr, Todd and Dublin townships are currently required to have their systems pumped every three years by companies specifically designated by their townships.

While some individuals think the frequency of pumping is too much, others think the three-year mandate is not stringent enough, the commissioners said. They added they have no control over whether all municipalities implement this ordinance as the county and townships do not fall under a system of hierarchy. “They exist right alongside us,” Keefer clarified.

Some of those in attendance at the September 2 town meeting were Al and Pat Corman, Clyde and Phyllis Brant, Elner DeShong, Terry McGowan, Karen Croft and Sarah Duvall.

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