5-year plan for Clarion County

Clarion County commissioners have rolled out something new for the county – a capital improvement plan covering 2020 through 2024.

“This is a road map for the county,” Commissioner Ted Tharan said at Thursday’s commissioners meeting. “This is the first time Clarion County has had a five-year plan.”

A Capital Improvement Project is generally buildings or land acquisition, feasibility studies, planning, design, construction, investments in technology, assets rehabilitation and project implementation associated with capital projects.

Funding sources range from the general fund, general fund reserves, grants or agency funds, debt or project revenues.

Rose Logue, the county’s budget director, said the commissioners every year look at the capital improvement plan for the current year and how the budget looks for the next year. The commissioners will also estimate how much money they want to spend.

She said the county, for 2020, has set aside $500,000 for capital improvement projects.

According to the plan, top items for next year include:

New voting machines: That will require an investment of $98,556.49 per year over the course of the eight-year lease agreement. Grant money is available from the state and federal government. The cost to the county is $315,381 (without federal funding.)

Courthouse renovations: Work requires new windows, heating system, air conditioning, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, drains, flooring, sound system, benches, lighting and painting. Estimated cost is $800,000.

The courthouse updates will be made over the five years of the plan.

The plan says another option is to “purchase a building allowing for several key court-related offices to be relocated from non-county owned buildings.” Estimated cost is $400,000.

Human Services building: Improvements include heating system, central air, windows, flooring, doors, ceiling, lights and paint at an estimated cost of $300,000. The improvements will span five years and will be capitalized and recovered through future rent.

Emergency Management Agency: Work includes renovations and possible relocation. The 911 center is currently located in the old county jail. The drainage system must be addressed along with various maintenance projects.

A review of the public safety communications system is estimated to cost $3 million to $4.7 million. The current system was installed in 2003 and the current 911 center communications system is “aging out.”

Clarion County jail: Renovations include replacement of the 21-year-old roof and replacement of heating and air-conditioning units. Additional security cameras are necessary for the safety of employees and inmates. Estimated cost is $225,000.

Building renovations and record storage: Estimated cost is $30,000 for “renovating vacated spaces to accommodate new functions.”

Communications systems: The county plans to purchase and replace outdated telephone systems and equipment with newer communications technology as the existing hardware reaches the end of its useful life. Estimated cost is $57,678.

Computer technology: The plan calls for the purchase of a virtualization backup system at a cost of $100,000 to $170,000. The system will protect the county’s computer system and data. The county also plans for technology replacement, refreshment and enhancement at an estimated cost of $50,000.

Assessment office: It needs to maintain current and accurate records of all property improvements within the county. To accomplish that, the plan includes the purchase of high-resolution, aerial pictometry imaging at an estimated cost of $218,100.

In addition, the commissioners passed a resolution for a fund balance that sets aside “at least 16 percent” of the budget for stabilization or emergencies.

“It’s a rainy day fund and prudent,” Logue said. “The fund balance is, conservatively, $4.5 million. It’s important that people realize it is a long-range planning document and things can change.”

Tharan said the county wants to ensure there’s “money sitting in the fund balance that we can carry forward to the next year.”