Commissioners OK financing for new courthouse


By D. Anthony Botkin - abotkin@civitasmedia.com



Delaware County commissioners on Thursday authorized the sale of $34 million in bonds to finance the county’s new judicial center under construction on South Sandusky Street.

The funds from the sale will pay the cost to build, furnish and equip the new judicial center being built next to the Hayes Building on South Sandusky.

Revised plans and costs for the structure were approved unanimously by commissioners in March. The projected cost for the 94,450 square-foot building is $38,082,971. The initial estimated cost was $35 million but that was before the addition of space for a new domestic relations court.

Commissioner Jeff Benton said that interest rates have come down and county finances still remain strong. “We may not need the whole $34 million,” he said. “We may need a little less.”

The five-story building, with plazas between the Hayes Building and the main entrance, will have two levels of underground parking, with the lowest level for staff and the public, along with security screening equipment; with the second level parking for staff and separate in-custody defendant delivery. The third story will house the Clerk of Courts Office, grand jury space, adult court services and public parking. The fourth and fifth stories will house courtrooms, hearing and mediation spaces. There will be in-custody defendant holding areas on all five stories for security purposes.

In other business, commissioners approved a “statement of rationale” — in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code — in order to make structural changes to the county’s regional sewer district that includes eliminating two jobs.

“Part of our rationale in creating the director of sanitary engineering and development position in February and hiring Mike Frommer to fill it was so that we could improve operations within this department,” Benton said in a prepared statement issued by the county. “The excellence of our sanitary-engineering operations is absolutely essential for ensuring that our role in facilitating smart growth in Delaware County is done well. Reorganizing staff so that everyone can do the best possible job they can is a critical part of these improvements.”

Two lead engineer positions are scheduled to be eliminated on April 22. The two employees who now hold those positions have been offered other positions at the same salary within the department, according to Jane Hawes, county communications manager.

Commissioners also took action that will allow the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office to continue using volunteer deputies.

Recently enacted state legislation requires that jurisdictions using volunteer police officers become members of a new fund, the Volunteer Peace Officers Dependents Fund. The fund will provide benefit payments to survivors of volunteer police officers killed or who have become disabled in the line of duty.

Commissioners approved joining the fund Thursday, along with the initial premium of $500. Commissioners have also started the process of electing members to a board that will administer the fund.

Sheriff Russell Martin thanked commissioners for their quick response in approving the fund. “I think the legislature was well-intended,” Martin said.

The county was facing an April 22 deadline.

By D. Anthony Botkin

abotkin@civitasmedia.com

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.