Commissioners form fund for ‘ingenuity center’

Washington County Commissioners signed a resolution Thursday to establish a fund for the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority Ingenuity Center on Ohio 7 at the Commerce Park in Reno.

Commissioner Tim Irvine said the facility is a $2.2 million project.

“The funds were acquired from various sources,” he said. “The largest piece of the puzzle was a $485,000 loan from the Department of Development.”

The final figure that will be set aside for the 35,000-square foot facility is $55,291.79.

Janet Nelson, executive assistant for the port authority, said the project is still not complete.

“We’re still doing some fine tuning,” she said.

Nelson said the project would most likely be complete in the upcoming weeks.

“I’d say 99 percent or better is completed,” she said. “There are just some minor details that have to be completed. We are already advertising for tenants because it’s not going to take that much longer.”

Assistant County Prosecutor Alison Cauthorn said the fund is there for a safeguard and will accrue interest.

“The county has agreed to deposit some money in an account for one-year’s (mortgage) payment (on the facility),” she said. “The interest is going to accrue to us. The only way the fund will be accessed by (the port authority) is if the port authority can’t pay the mortgage.”

Clerk Rick Peoples said the next step is to decide where the money will come from.

“(Commissioners will) need to decide which fund to draw it from,” he said, adding it would be either the County General fund or Economic Development Fund.

Nelson said the building is set up to have multiple tenants. She said all information regarding the facility can be found on the port authority’s website (www.seohioport.com) or by calling the port authority for information and to schedule a tour (568-1958).

In other business, county commissioners cleaned up the County Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Fund. The fund was established in 2008, when the county’s Workers’ Comp claims resulted in the county being removed from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Group Rating Program, where risk could be shared with other counties and premiums were very low. The commissioners at that time elected to “self-insure” to avoid significant increase in premiums.

s. Funds were placed into the Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Fund from each department, which would cover any future expenses incurred in claims.

Due to a lack of claims over the last several years, the money in the fund has increased.

Commission President Ron Feathers said the fund had more than $300,000 sitting in it and the decision was made to free up some of the money so that it could go back into the departments.

“We passed a resolution to release $219,000 out of the self-insurance fund to be redistributed back to the departments inside the county,” he said. “We decided to leave approximately $112,000 in the fund to cover any old losses. We’re freeing up taxpayers’ money back to the departments it was originally intended for.”