STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County commissioners Thursday appeared surprised when a $218,448 bill for engineering services at the county airport was dropped into their laps.
Gary Folden, county regional airport authority secretary, asked the commissioners to reimburse the authority because engineering costs aren't covered by state grants and Federal Aviation Administration money for the runway extension project. The money only can be used for construction work, he said.
The engineering bills were being paid while the project was ongoing with money borrowed from grant money earmarked for construction, Folden said. But the project is nearing completion and the remaining construction bills need to be paid.
The state gave the county $1.5 million in grants for the project, the commissioners contributed $500,000 and the FAA provided $253,515, for a total cost for construction of $2,253,515.
Folden said the airport authority knew in late 2012 it would have to come up with the engineering fees. Folden said Geary Bates, an airport authority member, told other airport authority members the commissioners would cover the engineering costs, a claim county Commissioners Thomas Graham and David Maple denied.
County Commissioner Tom Gentile was absent from the meeting.
"How did the (authority) spend money without a commitment from the commissioners," Maple asked.
The commissioners borrowed the $500,000 as their share of the project. Maple said the commissioners may have borrowed additional money if the board knew the engineering fees would be an issue.
Folden said the airport authority will be able to repay the money once a new gas and oil lease for airport property is finalized.
Maple said the runway extension project has had problems and "was at times confusing."
"I never recall being told there was a need to find another $218,000 for the project," Maple said.
"Out of respect for those (airport authority) board members, I will stop talking," Maple said, abruptly ending the discussion.
The issue was tabled until next week.
Commissioners also discussed but tabled a discussion on ending a reduction in water rates, instituted in 2009.
The county water and sewer department had a $2.5 million reserve in its budget, which prompted the commissioners reducing the monthly base rate by $2 and a 10 percent reduction in the cost of water used by county customers.
The water and sewer department said it operated with a deficit since then, but used the reserve money to balance the books. The reserve money has decreased to $795,000 but will drop to $250,000 by the end of the year. The department said the carryover money will be insufficient for the 2015 budget.
Maple said the commissioners gave the water and sewer department customers a break when the board had to raise sewer rates.
Graham said the commissioners have never had to increase water rates in the 12 years he has been a commissioner. He wants all three commissioners present when a decision is made on the rate increase.
Commissioners also heard from Cross Creek Township Solicitor John J. Mascio about roads in the Crestview-Belvedere sewer project needing to be repaired as a result of construction work on the sewer lines. Mascio said upward of $60,000 in repairs is needed.
The township trustees want a meeting with the commissioners concerning the repair work to the roads.
Commissioners said they need to get in writing the contractor's position on repairs to the roads.
Agreed to advertise for bids for the mezzanine roof at the Towers building on Market Street, with an estimated cost of $300,000. Commissioners discussed rolling about $2 million in roof repairs and other work on the building, plus the demolition of the Courthouse Annex, into one bond issue.
Commissioners signed a lease for 1,126 square feet of office space at $10 a square foot at the Towers for Dorado Petroleum of Fort Worth, Texas.
Signed a $792,597 contract with J.S. Bova Excavating of North Jackson for the installation of the Bradley water line project. Work is expected to begin in July.
Opened two bids for paving work at the county's Developmental Disabilities complex off John Scott Highway. The estimate was $501,200, with Shelly & Sands of Rayland submitting the apparent low bid of $468,010.
Signed a $3,340 contract between the county Job and Family Services Department and the Steubenville Health Department for the health department to provide home day care inspections to about 16 providers in the city.
Signed a contract for the Community Development Block Grant paving work in Mingo Junction and Saline and Wayne townships. The bid for the Mingo Junction work came in slightly above the estimate. Domenick Mucci, county Regional Planning Commission director, said Mingo Junction will have to pay $5,600 for the work.
Approved taking an additional 5 percent of delinquent real estate tax money recouped in tax foreclosure sales and using it to fund the operation of the county land bank. The land bank will demolish abandoned houses and buildings and clear title on the properties for redevelopment.
Were asked by the Warren Township trustees for the county to cut grass and weeds and fix the shelter roof at the Glen Robbins park. The county built the park in the 1960s. Commissioners said summer youth employment crews through the Community Action Council will cut the grass and weeds.
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