Roof improvements, employee wage increases approved

By Jennifer Peryam -

OTTAWA — Putnam County Commissioners Monday approved a $10.7 million budget for 2019 with $2.5 million that will be used for courthouse renovations.

The total budget approved is $10,751,415 with Commissioner John Love making the motion to approve the budget seconded by Vincent Schroeder. Commissioner Michael Lammers also voted in support of the budget.

The $2.5 million in the capital improvements budget will be used to complete several projects related to repairs to Putnam County Courthouse in 2019.

The first project is to replace a leaking courthouse roof.

“There are leaks to the courthouse roof that have happened since the courthouse was built in 1913,” Love said.

Another project is to replace the courthouse’s drainage system and masonry issues.

“The leaks have caused issues with the masonry that needs to be redone,” Love said. He added that pillars have cracked.

A decision following Supreme Court assessment of the county’s security system in 2007 recommended the county go down to one entrance at the courthouse.

In order to facilitate that recommendation the current handicap access that is at the north side of the courthouse building will be changed to the east side of the building.

“When you get down to one entrance, everyone will get use to that. More and more courthouses have just one entrance to go in and out of and we are following suit,” Love said.

Another project will be to remodel the courthouse’s elevator. The last time that was completed was in the 1960s. A new elevator car will be built and there will be new hydraulics installed on the elevator for safety purposes and part availability.

“This is the people’s building, and it is one of the staples of government for out county. We have to keep it up. It has been the pledge of the commissioners over the years to try to keep this building’s architecture that was planned,” Love said.

The county jail and prosecutor’s office will get new software. County employees will receive a 3 percent increase.

Following the meeting, two public hearings were held for a proposal to raise permissive sales taxes for license plate registrations. The commission first held public hearings on the topic Dec. 27.

Michael Lenhart, Putnam County engineer, said the increase would be necessary to help fix deteriorating roads and bridges.

“If we don’t do something to generate some money so our roads are where they need to be, we will notice we were short falling,” Lenhart said.

Love said the commission will still need to generate and approve a resolution after the first of the year for the proposed increase.

By Jennifer Peryam

Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

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