Courthouse Critic

Pat Walker appeals to county commissioners to suspend their plans to rebuild the courthouse.

MEDINA – Plans for county and city officials to build a new combined courthouse in Medina have encountered a roadblock in the form of an initiative drive to put the issue up to a vote of the people of Medina.

Attorney Pat Walker asked county commissioners July 30 to halt plans for the new courthouse, saying a group she represents has presented initiative petitions to Medina officials to put the issue up to a vote of city residents in November before committing any funds to the project.

City and county officials have agreed to share the design and construction costs of a new facility to house both the county and Medina Municipal Court. Preliminary cost estimates to tear down the Courthouse wing built in 1969 and replace it with a new combined courthouse is about $40 million.

“The voters of Medina expressed dismay about the proposed demolition of the 1969 Courthouse and even more dismay about the price tag for replacing it,” Walker said. “The Medina County voters I talked with, who were not city residents, were disappointed that they could not also sign the initiative petition.”

Walker said the initiative petitions have more than 900 signatures, which were collected in a six-day period. She also said time restraints prevented petitioners from getting enough signatures to make the initiative a countywide issue.

County Commissioner Bill Hutson said the initiative petition may alter plans to rebuild the Courthouse, but will not halt them.

“It’s unfortunate there’s been an impediment placed on the opportunity of the county and city to work together on this project,” he said. “However, the county will move forward with its plans even if the city is not able to participate.”

Commissioners launched a process to select a construction manager for the project despite the plea from Walker to delay action. County officials have already entered into a $2.6 million agreement with an architectural and design firm which is expected to take the next 12 months to design the new facility with input from various agencies and organizations who will be affected.

Social services levy

County commissioners approved a formal resolution asking the Medina County Board of Elections to place a 1-mill social services levy on the Nov. 5 ballot. If approved by voters, the levy would generate about $5.2 million a year which will be used to supplement funding for the Job and Family Services Department; Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board; and Office for Older Adults.

Child welfare contracts

County commissioners authorized the director of the Job and Family Services Department to enter into contracts with a variety of providers to monitor procedures for child placement and related services. The contracts are expected to total about $2.8 million. Failure to enter into formal contracts could result in the loss of more than $400,000 in Federal Title IV-E funds.

Gasoline purchase

Great Lakes Petroleum of Cleveland won a bid to sell the Medina County Engineering Center 7,400 gallons of regular unleaded fuel for $1.87 per gallon. The price was down 12 cents per gallon from what the county paid for the wholesale purchase of gas a month earlier.

Salvage vehicles

County commissioners approved a contract with Countryview Auto Recycling to dispose of abandoned vehicles acquired by the Medina County Sheriff’s Department. The agreement calls for the sheriff to pay Countryview $50 per salvage vehicle but no more than $1,500 for the year.

New vehicle

Commissioners authorized the Medina County Drug Task Force to purchase a new 2018 model vehicle from Medina Auto Mall for $31,225 but with a trade-in allowance of $18,300 for two vehicles the undercover drug enforcement agency is no longer in need of.

Personnel expenses

Commissioners authorized the travel expenses for some county employees to attend out-of-town meetings and training seminars. Among those expenses were $3,000 for three employees in the Adult Probation Department to attend a three-day training program in London, Ohio; $1,980 for the transit director to enroll in the eight-month Leadership Medina County program; and $1,200 for a common pleas court employee to attend a three-day management program in Columbus.

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