County reviews plans for $1.25M

Though nothing has been set in stone, specific budgetary goals are in place for the $1.25 million Washington County received last week for the lease of mineral rights on approximately 265 acres of county land.

Of the money, more than a third has been set aside for the county’s new budget stabilization fund. The remaining $800,000 will be used for capital projects that would otherwise need to be handled more gradually as funds became available.

The goal of the budget stabilization fund is to ensure that the money from the lease of public property continues to benefit the public for years to come, said commissioner Ron Feathers.

“The goal is that these funds are not just to be dumped in the general fund to be evaporated,” he said.

The money is essentially a rainy day fund and can be used in case of emergencies.

However, the current plan is to use the budget stabilization fund to cover the cost of an extra pay period that the county experiences every 11 years. The next year with 27 pay periods will occur in 2021, and the county expects that one-time expense to cost around $300,000, said Feathers.

As for the $800,000 assigned to capital improvements, the hope is to expedite improvements to some ailing county facilities.

For example, many of the windows in the Washington County Courthouse and portions of the roof are more than 20 years old, said Feathers.

“With the windows we have to replace one piece of glass at a time,” he said.

The estimated cost of replacing the courthouse’s 265 windows is just over $700,000, while the estimated cost of replacing the roof is $140,000.

Some other likely uses of the capital improvement money included new heat pumps in the courthouse, several painting projects and HVAC upgrades in the OSU Extension Office and county health department.

The influx of money from the lease allows the county to pay for improvements up front rather than borrowing money, Feathers said.

“In times when a windfall comes in it makes perfect sense to make sure all your real property is kept up,” he said.

There is no decision on which of the projects the county will tackle first. The budgeted expenditures are also subject to change, he said.