Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 20, 2018

County to apply for WCRF grantfor 911 center

Sep 20, 2017

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL

The supervisors approved a grant application and a resolution to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation for funding of the Washington County Public Safety Radio System and construction of communications building Tuesday morning.

Supervisor and board chairman Richard Young said during the Communications and 911 meeting last week, the boards approved applying for the grant. The grant was written by the mayor of Wellman, Ryan Miller.

“We’re asking for 22 percent of the total project, which is a little over $2 million dollars in the grant,” Young added. “We’re going for a $10.4 million price tag on that.”

The boards voted to have a request for proposal sent out for 95 percent coverage in the county portably in buildings, he added. The communications commission earmarked $150,000 toward the project as did the 911 committee.

Washington Communications Center supervisor Cara Sorrells said there were also letters of support written for the project.

Supervisor Bob Yoder asked if the $10.4 million included having towers built in the county.

“That does include the towers,” Young said.

“And that’s if needed,” supervisor Jack Seward Jr. added, “because once the request for proposal is issued, then it would be up to the vendors to give us what it would take to get us up to 95 percent coverage with portables. If they decide they have to have a few more towers in there, fine.”

The $10.4 million price tag doesn’t include the building, Young added. It was just for the new equipment and radios. The building would be a separate issue.

Supervisor Abe Miller disagreed with how the application was written. In the application it said if it were partially funded by the Riverboat Foundation, any funds for the above amount would be used for the equipment to help reduce the tax levy.

“My problem is the building is supposed to go to a bond referendum vote,” Miller said.

“That’s incorrect, Abe,” Seward said. “The vote is when you have to borrow money, and if we don’t have to borrow money it doesn’t have to go to a vote.”

“So why don’t we use that money to pay for the equipment instead of toward the building because we’re just building something again the public has no say-so in whatsoever,” Miller said, “which has happened in a couple of different situations.”

The equipement in the communications center has been determined by the state and county attorney as essential services, Seward replied.

Miller said this had nothing to do with what he was saying. Seward said that was incorrect and had everything to do with what he was saying.

“The people’s voices are heard through us — the elected officials,” Seward said. “What we decide to do with a building that is not an essentail public purpose is we have to build it. Now if we have to borrow to build it, that is where the vote is allowed. If we don’t have to borrow to build it, then there is no vote required.”

Miller argured the taxpayer still had to pay for the building and had no say in it.

Seward said he disagreed with Miller’s thought.

“I think they should be separate,” Miller said. “I can’t support it because here again you’re building something. I understand we need to build a facility. I have a problem with how it’s set up because it’s something the taxpayer should have a right to vote on and the money we get from the riverboat could be used for the equipment bond and the taxpayer gets to vote on the building.”

“So let me ask you this question,” Young said. “If the riverboat wants to pay us for that building, it costs us nothing. We still have to bond for the equipment. You’re saying the people should vote on that building, so what happens if the people vote no? We got $10 million worth of equipment and we could have got a building paid for by the riverboat foundation.”

Miller said he still thought the public should have a right to vote on something they’ll be taxed on. He thought the application was combining both projects together.

Both Seward and Young said that was incorrect. The money they would receive from the riverboat foundation would help alleviate the amount the county would have to borrow for the project if they ended up having to borrow money.

What Miller was refering to in the application, is the explanation of what would happen if the county receives the grant from the riverboat foundation, Seward said. The projects aren’t tied together.

“We’re writing this grant to try to reduce the tax burden on the people,” Young said.

This wouldn’t reduce the tax burden on the people, Miller replied.

“Yes, it does,” Young said, “if we don’t have to borrow $1.4 million to build a building that reduces what the people in the county have to pay. I’m serious.”

Most of the people Young has spoken to about the project said they don’t have an issue with the grant because if the county receieves that grant they won’t have to borrow the money, he said.

Miller still argued the building should go to a vote and the money should be used toward the equipment.

There was no further discussion on the grant application. Seward made a motion to approve the resolution regarding the application. Miller was the only dissenting vote.

“I support buying equipment 100 percent,” Miller said. “I don’t support the way it’s written.”




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