County discusses financing

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County commissioners Thursday discussed borrowing up to $1 million to finance several capital improvement projects.

Commissioners have authorized an architectural study for improvements to the heating and air conditioning system at the Towers to determine why pipes recently burst causing flooding in several offices.

Commissioners want to move the county board of elections out of the Courthouse Annex into the Towers. The Courthouse Annex will be demolished to make room for public parking.

The Veterans Services Commission moved out of the War Memorial Building on North Street into the Towers. The commissioners said they will check to determine if the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, which would limit what could be done to the now-empty building.

The county auditor’s office will study the issuance of a bond to finance the projects.

In other matters, commissioners were informed the city is increasing its bulk water rate by $1.30 per 1,000 gallons of water. The county buys about 2.5 million gallons of water a month from the city.

Shannan Gosbin, county water and sewer department director, said her office was verbally informed by the city of the increase.

The county and city entered a contract in 1982 to buy bulk water. The contract states any rate increase has to be proven to show a necessity.

Commissioners said they haven’t received any paperwork from the city regarding the increase.

City Mayor Domenick Mucci said he will inform city officials about the importance of showing a need for the increase. Mucci said residential customers have to pay the increase.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the increase would be about $40,000.

“We would have liked to have been afforded the respect to sit down and talk. We wouldn’t do that to any of our customers,” Gentile said.

Gentile said the county pays about $85,000 a year in water costs for county buildings in the city.

Gosbin said the county could put piping in to feed the Overlook Hills area, outside Wintersville, saving about 600,000 gallons of water purchased from the city a month.

Commissioners received a letter from Precision Pipeline of Lancaster about additional costs the company claimed it incurred in the construction of the Brilliant water booster station.

The company said utility lines weren’t properly marked and there was more rock than anticipated. The company wants an additional $16,796.

Gosbin said she doesn’t believe the company is entitled to the extra money. Commissioners will schedule a meeting with the company to discuss the request.

Commissioners asked the county data processing department about using county computer servers for the sheriff’s department.

The sheriff’s department asked for $6,452 to buy new computer servers.

The county data processing department used to provide servers but the sheriff’s department went off the county computer network because of confidential information.

County Commissioner David Maple said he wants to hear from the sheriff if it is a policy or security decision to stay off the countywide computer network.

Gentile said the county is looking at ways to share services and save money.Commissioners also agreed to spend $9,958 for antivirus computer software for the county’s 200 computers for a three-year period.

It also was announced county Auditor Patrick Marshall received a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for the county’s comprehensive annual financial report for 2012.