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Response to John Q. Public

Dear Mr. Taxpayer,

Thank you for the letter that you sent to County News online.  It is what we commissioners hoped would happen, people asking questions and finding out what we intend to do.  This subject is of vital importance to the county we believe, but it seems to be on the back burners in Columbus.  We are told there will be a solution, but what will that be? At this time, nobody knows, and we don’t want to wait until the last minute to be told it is our problem.  Therefore, we have decided to take a proactive stance and try to alleviate the problem without the help of Columbus, but with the help of the Darke County citizens.  
You are correct sir, none of the money we are asking for is for Roads and Bridges.  Road and Bridge money comes out of the Gasoline tax.  Mr. Surber has done a tremendous job using that money to its fullest potential.  Our roads and bridges are as good or better than anybody else’s.
In answer to the question “ Why do we need $4 million dollars when we have only proposed million in expenditures? “  Actually, sir, we are proposing approximately 1 million in expenditures. We are not sure if we want to make the tax for 3 or 4 years.  We want to be able to put enough money back to help the program for several years after the tax goes off, but we don’t want to have an excessive amount because it is the public’s money.  That is one question that we want you to help us decide.  As for what we will be spending it on, I have been giving a handout on the exact projects the money will be used for.  Of course, this handout does no good for online conversation, so I will explain what we want to do with the funds.  I hope you will understand that these are costs for things as close as we can determine now.  Hopefully, they will be lower, but there is the possibility of them being higher, so here goes:   911 communication equipment upgrades- $500,000   Jail door upgrades-$250,0000   Jail sewer line upgrades- $150,000  Jail heating and cooling upgrades- $75,000  Jail electrical upgrades-$75,000  Vehicles for Sheriff- $500,000 (these will be bought on a rotating basis, approximately 2 to 3 a year)-   EMA command vehicle- $45,0000.  This comes to a grand total of $1,495, 000.    In talking to Mr. Zumbrink, the County Treasurer, we feel that interest rates at some point will have to rise.  We can then take the excess money and put it in an account that will help the fund to grow. Hopefully, new upgrades for 911 will not happen for 5 years or more, but who knows how fast technology in this area will advance. Some people have asked why we are doing upgrades on the Jail and EMA also.  The reasoning we see is that all of these systems are int

erconnected.  Besides being housed in the Jail facility, The Sheriff and the EMA also use the 911 system. In a lot of cases, the Sheriff is the tip of the spear on 911 calls.  His quick response is vital to any and all situations that arise.  Since Darke County is the 8th largest county in the State surface wise, and with a fairly the sparse population in such a large area,  It just makes sense to upgrade it all at once.  Jail upgrades should last for a good while, and they have needed to be done for a long time.  Since we are asking for the peoples help, we want to do things the right way and not piece-meal this project.  Fix it and be done with it, and then we can better maintain what we have going forward.
One of your other sentiments was” why let this money languish in a slush fund awaiting a new political epiphany?”   Because this tax will be titled “911/Capital Projects Improvements” Our auditor, Ms. Ginn will make sure that a new line is put in the budget, and by law if it says “Capital Projects” that is where it must go.  Nowhere else,  and  It cannot be used for salaries. Since we have spelled out what it must be used for, that is where it must go.
Another great question you asked was “ what are we going to do with the money we save for the General Fund?”   We hope to take that money and put it into other capital projects that have been neglected since the economy went south.  In order to make ends meet, the Commissioners had to let some maintenance go, so we hope to start taking care of that issue.  I am sure that you will agree that maintaining structures and equipment is far cheaper than building or buying new.
I hope this has answered your questions on this subject, and  thank you for asking.  Mike, Diane and myself appreciate questions on what we are doing.  We all feel that communication is the key to successful government.  If you have any further questions, you may contact us at anytime.  Thank you for your concern.
Mike Stegall- Darke County Commissioner

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