Hancock Public Health seeks new quarters


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Hancock Public Health, the merged city-county health department, is cramped for space and two health officials on Tuesday asked the Hancock County commissioners to help obtain a new building.
Health Commissioner Karim Baroudi and health board member Bill Alge spoke to the commissioners, who suggested the agency look elsewhere for funding.
The Findlay and Hancock County health departments merged into Hancock Public Health effective Jan. 1, 2016. The health department is located at 7748 Hancock County 140, Findlay, on the property of the former county home. A part of the main building and a portion of “cottages” in the back are used by the department.
The health board is interested in issuing a general obligation bond to finance the construction or purchase of new quarters. The board would repay the bond over 10 to 15 years and then receive title to the property, said Cindy Land, assistant county prosecutor.
There was no discussion Tuesday about building details, but a $1 million price was mentioned.
The health board could borrow the money from a bank, Baroudi said, but he said that would not be “fiscally responsible.”
He requested that the commissioners “invest in an office building for us,” which could be either an existing building or new construction.
Baroudi said health officials have talked to Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik about the situation and were told the city could assist with some of the expenses related to construction.
But Commissioner Mark Gazarek said a general obligation bond would require the county to co-sign. He said the county had to recently begin repaying bonds for sewer projects because payments stopped and the county years ago had signed on to the loans.
Gazarek said the health board should approach the city, request the money and then repay the city at a low interest rate.
He said “there would be no hesitation if (the county) had the money set aside.”
Commissioner Brian Robertson said receipts from the county’s 1 percent sales tax are expected to decline this year. Gazarek said sales tax revenues are being hurt by increased online sales and out-of-county sales.
“We can’t afford to make a mistake,” he said.
Separately, the commissioners approved a resolution to purchase two tractors and mowers for the county engineer’s office from John Deere through Findlay Implement. Cost will be about $142,000 and the county will receive about $38,000 for trade-ins, resulting in a purchase price of about $104,300.
Separately, the commissioners heard an update from Laurie Collins, with Hancock Area Transportation Services (HATS), on operations at the public ride service. Three new vehicles were purchased in 2017 and two are planned for purchase this year. The purchases will replace existing vehicles. There are 22 vehicles operating throughout Hancock County.
Nearly 45,000 trips were made last year, and about 34 percent were for riders’ employment, she said.
The agency now provides a wedding shuttle service. It is considering a proposal for a program which would provide rides for individuals in communities located within a mile of Hancock County, such as portions of Fostoria and Bluffton.
On Feb. 14, the agency will provide free rides to promote “Ohio Loves Transit” day. To schedule a free ride, call 419-423-7261. Hours are 7:15 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Separately, interior painting has started in the courthouse, said Sarah Mutchler, operations coordinator for the county. Brian Brothers Painting and Restoration, Piqua, began work on the first floor and will work up to the top floor, she said. The project is expected to be completed in about five weeks.


Written by Loknath Das