Allen County shifts to ‘crisis mode’ on repairs

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — After receiving $5 million of capital budget requests earlier this year, Allen County commissioners have shifted into “crisis mode” when it comes to allocating the roughly $1.5 million available for capital projects in 2019.

Normally, the county creates an annual budget for capital projects, which commissioners approve within the first few months. That process shifted when commissioners received $5 million worth of capital requests from county departments.

With less than a third of that available primarily from sales tax and casino funds, commissioners are now taking a more flexible approach to fund capital requests, instead of promising specific projects for the entire year.

“We’re presented with projects that are dealt with on an emergency basis,” Commissioner Jay Begg said.

One example of such a response has been software and hardware updates to the county’s dispatch system, approved earlier this year. Commissioners prioritized the roughly $500,000 project due to the system hitting its expected end-of-life five years ago.

Begg also named the need to replace the steel I-beams that hold up the ceiling of Crouse Hall at Veterans Memorial Civic Center. That project is expected to cost roughly $150,000.

An additional financial burden affecting the county’s capital budget is the cost for the new Juvenile Detention Center. To pay for the project last year, the county spread out the cost over future budgets, which tied up 2019 capital revenues.

“What you got left is $1.5 million, and that’s not going to go very far,” Allen County Commissioner Greg Sneary said.

As for future capital budgets, Sneary mentioned that 2019’s $5 million in capital requests isn’t going away next year. Even if all $5 million worth of projects are completed in a reasonable time frame, the county’s aging buildings will most likely create more issues down the road, he said.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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