By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — The Daviess County Council was in agreement Wednesday that something needed to be done to solve the county’s storage and office problem.
The council heard from commissioners Tony Wichman and Mike Taylor update following the re-emergence of bats and spiders at the old county highway garage on S.E. Third Street.
Wichman said he and county Clerk Sherri Healy are working on a lease to use a building on South Street that would provide 4,000 square feet of pest-free storage for at least the end of this year.
“She has now refused to let her people go (to the garage),” Wichman said.
The rent for the building would come from the clerk¹s budget but it would store documents from other county offices. But as for next year and after that, the county is still in the planning stages.
“We just don’t know where we are going,” Wichman said.
To figure out the next step, Taylor and several officeholders have formed a committee to find out what the county needs and how to build it.
Council members did have some questions about the garage. Council member Ken Solliday asked if a building inside the garage could be constructed that would keep the bats, spiders and insects out. After the idea was put aside due to structural concerns, Council member Dave Smith asked if those files cannot be stored electronically.
“What about imaging those documents?” Smith said. “Storing them is a thing of the past.”
While many county offices do store documents digitally, state law also requires hard copies stored for a number of years. Wichman said a combined office building with storage should be in the neighborhood of 8,000 - to 10,000-square feet to accommodate offices for the health department, Purdue Extension and other offices that are in transformed homes near the courthouse.
Council member Jo Arthur said the building needs to accommodate future needs as well.
“I think there is a real need, but we need to look at what the overall issue is,” Arthur said.
The problem, Wichman said, will be cost. The county is currently paying construction bonds on the security center, due to be completed in 2018.
Also, the county’s Riverboat Fund has become depleted due to repairs on the Bennington Levee. He said there are funds in the county¹s rainy day reserve.
Smith was then appointed to serve as the council’s representative to the newly-formed Buildings Committee. The committee meets today in the courthouse.
Ron Arnold, director of the Daviess County Economic Development Foundation, came before the council and updated it on economic developments.
He also asked the council for approval to bring back more information on a future bond issue. Arnold said he would like to issue a bond for $7 to $8 million to create an 80,000-square-foot building near the I-69 interchange in Washington along with other improvements near the interstate.
“We’re very short of buildings in Daviess County,” Arnold said.
The building could serve as a warehouse or another facility for incoming businesses. The bonds would be paid back from TIF revenues created from GPC.
The factory is finishing its abatement, Arnold said, and will have increased revenue.
The council did not vote on any bond issue, but said it would listen to more information.
The council approved two large additional appropriations for the Auditor’s office and the health department.
Auditor Gail Doades asked the council for $12,000 in salary to hire another deputy auditor. The deputy would replace another employee who is retiring at the end of 2012, but Doades wanted that person to start soon to learn the budget process. The council approved the measure.
The health department asked, and received, $26,600 to purchase additional vaccines. County Health Nurse Kathy Sullender said her department will be expanding its popular vaccination program soon to include adults and children with insurance.
She said in the past year since the county has started collecting administration fees for vaccinations, $45,000 has been collected.