Miami County plans capital projects; courthouse, animal shelter on early list

County officials aim for better planning after some past scrambling when projects came up at the last minute

TROY — Miami County is trying to take a more coordinated approach to planning for capital improvement projects in hopes of being better prepared for often higher dollar projects.

A review of the draft capital improvement plan, or CIP, for 2023 and 2024 was held in late November by commissioners and Charlotte Colley, the commissioners’ administrator, along with department representatives.

A five-year plan is in the works, but the initial two years have the most detail.

Among projects discussed for 2023 was $325,000 for design, bidding and project management for interior renovation of the 1880s courthouse. Money then is included in the 2024 plan for second- and third-floor renovations, along with the large courtroom on the building’s third floor. Estimated cost for those projects is $2.85 million and $1.085 million, respectively.

Other projects listed in 2023 or 2024 with estimated costs include early planning for a new county animal shelter ($25,000); camera replacements in various locations ($135,000); and engineer’s salt building reconstruction ($1.5 million).

Colley said when she was hired in 2021, one of the goals discussed with commissioners was more planning.

“Historically, they have had some concerns and issues about some of these projects coming up at the last minute and scrambling to find money and to get them programmed,” she said.

The CIP effort is “something that is a long time coming,” said County Auditor Matt Gearhardt.  “I am glad to get it kicked off and to have some working documents in front of us.”

Advice on developing a CIP was sought from communities with established programs, including Piqua and Centerville, Colley said. A committee from departments across the county government also was formed with Commissioner Greg Simmons representing the commission.

Project sheets were developed and each department was asked to fill out what they see as future capital needs for 2023 through 2028. Not everyone submitted full five-year proposals, but some ideas of future needs now are included in the CIP documents.

“We know, or think we know, what projects we are going to be looking at for the upcoming budget year, and we may have a good idea of the second year,” Colley said. The third through fifth years are more of a gray area, particularly with funding.

The commission each year sets aside a portion of the county sales tax income for capital improvements. That percentage now is 10 percent, set in 2021. The estimated tax revenue for next year is approximately $1.7 million.

The plan lists possible funding for some projects from other sources such as the American Rescue Plan Act money received by the county and special project/computer funds.

Once the budget for 2023 is determined, goals include posting the information on the county website for viewing by the public.

“Part of this process was to not only keep ourselves internally straight on money coming in, going out and what we see as projects on the horizons, (but) also give the public a view of what county is spending or what we think we might be doing in the next five years,” Colley said.

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