Fulton County is heading into 2017 with stable finances and a slew of capital projects scheduled.
Administrator Vond Hall said the county will spend a total of $616,000 this year on the following: Detwiler Building – a first floor air handler and cleaning duct work; Administration Building – replacing the main air handler, sealing and re-striping the parking lot, and blacktopping the stone lot; Health Department – sprinkler lines and replacing the boilers; Senior Center – cooling tower; transportation service – a tire changer and balancer; Board of Elections – covering trim with aluminum; the county truck building – work on the exterior; and Courthouse Plaza – sealing and re-striping the parking lot and replacing the broken sidewalk in front.
Hall said the county looks at reasonable spending to prioritize projects selected by the Fulton County Commissioners, then works on them systematically. Depending on the individual project, the cost is paid through capital funds, special revenue funds, and county general funds.
He said the county’s finances are currently stable due to conservative spending practices. “The elected officials continue to have open and honest discussions with regard to the public checkbook,” Hall added.
Projects regarding individual communities are typically part of the county’s annual share of Community Development Block Grant monies distributed in the spring.
Unfortunately, the county continues experiencing a significant loss in revenue as the state tightens its belt, Hall said. That will include additional proposed changes in state tax set to begin by summer.
Looking back, Hall said the most satisfying county project of 2016 was the completion of exterior repairs to the courthouse. “The courthouse is a treasure of the county and is a responsibility to take care of,” he said.
What he would liked to have seen last year were more shared service projects with other government agencies. In fact, his greatest disappointment in 2016 was the unmet goal, due to delays, of a shared project with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“If we can partner more, it will allow more to be done more cost effectively,” Hall said.
Hall said his priority for this year is threefold: continued cooperation among the county’s officials; more shared service projects; and maintaining public-owned buildings and grounds.
Commissioner Jeff Rupp said the year looks bright.
“I see good things ahead for Fulton County. Companies are continuing to expand and add jobs, there are new companies looking to come into the county, and unemployment is low,” he said.
Rupp expressed similar disappointment that the county’s joint project with the Ohio Department of Transportation to build an office/garage complex with a museum on State Highway 108 has experienced delays. However, “Those delays have been worked through, and lots of progress is being made now,” he added.
He would like to see an interior restoration this year of the Fulton County Courthouse, and said research is currently being done for upgrading both the inner mechanical systems and aesthetics.
“It’s time for a restoration,” he said.
Rupp said he’d also like to see treatment programs for the increasing heroin epidemic in the county rather than added criminalization.
“We spend a lot of money through our legal system and the jails and the court to battle the heroin epidemic that affects so many people in our area. We need of new ways of dealing with the problem,” he said.
Yet overall, Rupp said, 2017 looks to be a promising year in Fulton County.
“Finances are good, revenue streams are good. We’re sitting in a good place right now,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.