WILMINGTON — County commissioners want to meet with Jefferson Township trustees before proceeding to help finance a township firehouse/EMS construction project.
While all three commissioners remain in favor of the project, they are seeking some reassurance if they are to invest county funds.
As previously reported, Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said there have been about $95,000 in cost overruns with the firehouse project, and township officials were wanting $55,000 more for possible contingencies in the course of the project.
On Monday, Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods said she had contacted the township Fiscal Officer Donna Lansing and had a half-hour or 45-minute phone call to learn more about the project.
Woods said she feels the project from the beginning has been “somewhat of a little bit of a mess.”
Roughly $96,000 was spent on a previous architect they no longer have, said Woods.
“I’m a little concerned with where the project is headed, and who’s actually watching over that,” she added.
Steed said his understanding is that the first design of the firehouse stemmed from a wish list that went beyond available funds.
According to Steed, the designer wasn’t reined in soon enough given the available dollars for the project. The township had to engage a new designer, he said, adding it was an unfortunate mistake because it involved about $95,000 of the $1 million in state grant dollars.
Phone messages left with two of the trustees were not immediately returned Monday.
Clinton County Commissioners President Patrick Haley recommended commissioners meet soon with trustees. He called the township firehouse a needed project but said it also needs to be done right.
Haley said a firehouse project is something a township doesn’t do everyday, adding “some of this may be a little bit foreign to them.”
Woods said if the county loaned $55,000 for contingencies, that would open the door even wider — something she said she is not in favor of doing.
“Because I think a million dollar firehouse for a township of that size is more than adequate, and you need to rein that in and you need to figure out your immediate needs and what exactly you have to have. And from then on, I think it needs to be shut down [additional funds],” said Woods.
She reiterated she is in favor of the project and of helping the township any way she can, but she has a few more questions and things to clarify before she could say yes.
Under consideration, in effect, is a zero-percent loan to the township to be repaid to the county over a period of time.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.
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