Fulton County Commissioners Hear Investment Update & Hold Extra Ditch Hearing

DITCH HEARING WELL ATTENDED … With fourteen residents and interested parties present at the Fulton County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, Rod Creager from the FC Engineer’s Office presented the financial changes to the project known as Ditch 2141 Myers. This was a second final hearing due to no acceptable bids being made after the first final hearing for this ditch. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)

By: Rebecca Miller

The Thursday morning, July 8, 2021, session for the Fulton County Commissioners was short and sweet with just the passage of the following:

-Minutes from July 6 meeting

-Agenda as presented

-Increase and transfer of appropriations for various departments

-Resolution 505 Enter into Contract 2021-76 with Sarka Electric for Obstruction Light Mitigation at Fulton County Airport

-Approve purchase orders and travel requests

On July 13, 2021, Tuesday morning, they approved a number of items, heard an Investment Advisory update from Scott Gruber, their CMT Client Portfolio Manager, and held a well attended Ditch Hearing. The items approved on Tuesday included:

-Minutes from July 8 and day’s agenda with one amendment – adding Resolution 517

-Payment of bills and Increase and transfer of Appropriations for various departments

-Resolution 512 Approve payment request for first half of 2021 Domestic Violence fees collected from Court fees

-Resolution 513 Enter into Contract 2021-77 with Geddis Paving and Excavating, Inc. for Cty. Rd. 10 project

-Resolution 514 Approve legal and authorize ad for bids for Fulton County Board of DD Office Renovation Project

-Resolution 515 Approve personnel request on behalf of JFS

-Purchase orders and travel requests

-Resolution 517 to Execute letter of acceptance for CDBG for physical year 2021 Administration proposal and fee schedule

For old business, the commissioners reviewed the June 2021 Investment report, the Clerk of Courts Second Quarter 2021 Financial Reports and the County Road 10 Construction Inspection from DGL Consulting Engineers. County Administrator Vond Hall shared some information on the County Road 10 project and said it will be brought back for future discussion.

Following a short recess, the commissioners welcomed Scott Gruber and County Treasurer Char Lee for the Investment Advisory Update. Mr. Gruber began with a quick explanation of the state of the economy presently, saying with a bit of humor that the economy is stuck, much like the Ever Green, one of the world’s largest container ships, got stuck in the Suez Canal this year, disrupting supplies and causing billions of dollars in backup.

“Inflation is the topic these days,” he said, “as everyone is still trying to get a handle on it as we are coming out of the pandemic.”

His powerpoint and his explanations showed that there is high demand and low supply in many areas. Lumber and plywood costs were up 78% since April 2020, Copper was up 80% since April 2020 and the U.S. Ford Motor Co., the largest automaker, has been forced to scale back production because of the global shortage of chips, or semiconductors.

Due to that last point, the price of used cars and trucks have been driven up. Inflation is going higher as it is transitory, but he believes it will do what the feds hope eventually, and get to 2%. So supply chain issues have caused some problems.

In non farm payrolls, there has been a surge in the number of jobs added back into the market but there is still a gap in how many employees are back to work.

He commented that the unemployment availability has been a large factor in causing the shortage of workers, as well as the older age group is not returning for some reason, or a lack of participation rate.

Short term interest rates have been essentially at zero, but Char Lee has done well with the banks in Fulton County so they are doing ok. With the changes in GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the Unemployment Rate, the Core PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditure) inflation and the Federal funds rate, he does not see the economy really getting smoothed out for at least two or three more years.

The general consensus is that the Fed will not raise rates until 2023. He assured the commissioners that they are keeping a balanced portfolio.

The details in the Fulton County investment portfolio included the cash, securities, maturity, yield and estimated annual interest income.

After another short recess, the Hearing for Ditch #2141, requested by Craig Myers, began with fourteen interested parties present to hear the details.

Rod Creager, from the Fulton County Engineer’s office, welcomed everyone and explained that even though they had a final hearing before, there was a need for another hearing because none of the bids for the ditch, that came in, were equal to or lower than the Engineer’s Estimate of $120,250. It is required by the Ohio Revised Code that a new hearing and new bids be accepted if that happens.

This hearing held almost all of the same information as the first Final Hearing that was held, but Creager went over them again, adding new financial information.

He showed exactly what the new project would entail with maps that were marked to show the parts improved in 1913 and what they plan to do now. With 108 years since any major work was done on this area, it is definitely in need.

There were some short sections worked on in the 1960’s but most has not been upgraded other than by owners off and on and piecemeal.

The project objectives are still “to improve drainage capacity to provide an outlet for modern drainage demands and to establish an outlet with a permanent maintenance program.”

Financially, the cost of the project will be split between the City of Wauseon, Craig Myers, ODOT and the residents in the Watershed.

Creager spoke about three of four different aspects of the project and who will be bearing the greatest cost of each one as well as whether the city would be doing the work or the county would be paying contractors to do it.

He went into great detail on each of those aspects and eventually got to the cost to the Watershed, which is why the fourteen had come.

Due to the inflation and the great price jump for supplies, the new estimate is $210,518.94 with the breakdown on that being $201,738.25 for construction, $7,072 for Engineer’s Cost, $700 for clerk’s cost and $1,008.69 for what is called First Year Maintenance.

Project assessments averaged at $443 per lot and $328 per tillable acre, but Creager reminded everyone that this is just an average.

The estimated City Assessment would be around $70,301.68 (or 33.4%), estimated Myers’ Assessment would be $32,944.75 (15.7%) and the estimated Watershed Assessment for the balance of the construction would be $107,272.51 (50.9%).

Following his explanations, Creager turned it back over to the Commissioners and Commissioner Jon Rupp asked if anyone wanted to testify in the hearing.

One gentleman, Greg Stutzman who owns a little over 12 acres being affected, asked some questions about the legal fees on the project, which were satisfied by answers from the commissioners and Creager as they assured him that they have chosen not to use a Bond so there will not be that legal fee.

The county will finance it, with no interest, and then those affected will have five years to pay their portion.

Following the testimony portion, Commissioner Jeff Rupp stated that as the commissioners had already approved this project once before and that the only changes are financial, which had been fully explained, he would make a motion to approve it again.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve a motion, to have the project be County Financed, with a five year time period for pay back and to set the date for opening bids on September 2, 2021.

With no further business for the day, the Commissioners meeting/the Ditch Hearing was adjourned.

Rebecca can be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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