WILMINGTON — The Clinton County auditor Wednesday offered to move his operations from the courthouse to the Administration Building to open up space for common pleas court’s Adult Probation Department.
Commissioners President Patrick Haley said he and his colleagues needed some time to consider the new idea. At the same Wednesday session, Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said he wanted the Board of Elections to again consider re-locating to the County Annex Building on South Nelson Avenue because it would solve so many of the county’s space-related issues.
Clinton County Auditor Terence “Terry” G. Habermehl said a comment was recently made that nobody was willing to move as part of a solution to the county government’s space problems. He said he is willing to move his entire operations — 10 full-time and two part-time staff — to the Administration Building on East Sugartree Street.
That proposed relocation apparently would displace county staff who are with Solid Waste District Recycling and with Human Resources. Steed, moreover, is concerned the auditor’s move would take away the current “one-stop shop” convenience for the public when utilizing the auditor’s and associated offices in the courthouse. Steed also said the move would make it harder to have interaction among county employees with related functions.
Habermehl suggested two of those related offices — Tax Map and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) — could also relocate to the Admin Building once the Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ (BMV) lease with the county expires. And Clinton County Chief Deputy Auditor Donyel Riley said inter-office communication is largely electronic or occurs in scheduled appointments.
Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck liked Habermehl’s idea, calling it a long-term solution for the space needs of the Adult Probation Department’s staff.
Habermehl said one advantage to his proposal is its low cost — not very many remodeling changes would need to be made at the Admin Building to accommodate his office operations, he said.
Clinton County Board of Elections Chairperson Steve E. Fricke, who was also at the meeting, acknowledged something needs to be done regarding space needs for the local elections staff and voting machines.
In an unrelated appointment Wednesday, senior leadership from Clinton County Jobs & Family Services (JFS) met with commissioners as part of an effort to keep commissioners frequently updated on the extent to which the opioid crisis is straining foster care and its costs. Wednesday’s report was brighter than one on Jan. 24 when JFS officials asked commissioners to authorize an advance on Children Services levy money so the agency did not run out of money for child protection custody in March — a request later granted.
Clinton County JFS Director Kathi Spirk said that on Feb. 13 there were 75 children in the custody and care of Clinton County JFS, and that number had dropped to 68 children as of this past Monday. In part, she said the reduction is due to an all-out effort to place children with relatives rather than with a foster family, something that’s not always possible.
The number of children needing foster care fluctuates, said Spirk. She added JFS feels it is very business-minded in how they do what they do — carrying out procedures, having checks and balances, and monitoring what is going on, in order to make sure they’re fiscally responsible.
After Steed inquired whether JFS is starting to have preliminary consideration of a possible additional levy, Clinton County JFS Deputy Director Gina Speaks-Eshler indicated they have.
Haley said he thinks JFS would have a very difficult time right now in passing a levy increase “with the increase in taxes that just occurred.”
In an expenditure item, commissioners approved hiring experts to perform a structural analysis of the conditions of the waterway tunnel under the courthouse. There are signs of deterioration but the extent is not known, Clinton County Engineer Jeff Linkous has said.
An evaluation of the tunnel will allow the commissioners to do better financial planning in terms of when, as well as what kind of repairs will be needed, said Linkous previously.
The concrete tunnel is about six feet tall and 14 to 16 feet wide.
The lowest of two bids to study the tunnel was $23,954.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.