Committee members confused on spending for new county building
As Portage County Space and Properties Committee members examined the timeline associated with the concept of constructing a new $78.5 million Government Center Tuesday, July 5, they came up with more questions than answers.
The timeline reviewed by Jami Gebert, assistant to Portage County Executive Patty Dreier, shows dollar amounts allocated in the five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which the County Board will vote on in August. After that vote, the CIP projects move into the budgeting process. The budget for 2017 would go to the County Board for approval in October and budget adoption would be in November.
The problem is there has been no action by any county committee or the County Board to authorize spending money for the new Government Center.
When the County Board June 21 approved the concept of building the new center, the resolution did not authorize any spending. County Board members were told the financial aspect would come back to the board at a later date for approval. With $5.2 million slated for the new Government Center design in the first year of the 2017-22 CIP, Corporation Counsel Michael McKenna questioned whether the funding could be allocated without a specifically approved resolution authorizing the spending.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s classic fiscal law that you have appropriation, you need authorization … frankly, this is where the professionals need to start talking to each other.”
For several minutes, there was talk back and forth regarding how an authorization to spend money could be done without knowing specific costs associated with the project, and how those specifics could not be identified without spending money on design.
“This is subject to amendments by CIP and to the (county) Board,” County Board Chair Phil Idsvoog said. “By the next meeting, that process needs to be very clear. There are people who don’t understand. That (resolution) authorized no money for anything.”
Committee members instructed Idsvoog, Gebert and McKenna to meet and figure out specifically what all is involved in not just appropriating funds for the new building (as is done in the CIP) but when authorizing spending must occur in order to move forward with the design and determine specific costs related to the new building.
The goal is to have that information available at the next CIP/Economic Development meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 13.