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Published: Thursday, 1/9/2003

Office rent rates called sensible decision

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Fulton County's rent payments for a new office building will more than cover the cost of the $1 million building before the 10-year lease is up.

But commissioners, who unanimously approved the lease last week, said it made financial sense for the county to rent space instead of constructing its own building.

Commissioner Paul Barnaby said the county would have needed more time to arrange financing to erect a building. The county Soil and Water Conservation District rents space in a downtown Wauseon building that is for sale and the agency is on a month-to-month agreement.

If the county had constructed the building, it would have had to pay prevailing wage, adding perhaps $250,000 to the cost of the building, Commissioner Dean Genter said.

He added that commissioners were concerned about economic forecasts.

“That initial outlay of money - with budgets tightening, we felt we didn't need to put $1 million, $1.5 million, into another building,” he said.

Commissioners had hoped to pay for their recently completed administration building with interest income, but those plans had to be revised with the drop-in interest rates, county administrator Vond Hall said.

Commissioners plan to move the county extension service and conservation district by June into the 14,000-square-foot building under construction across from the fair grounds on State Rt. 108 in Dover Township. Stan Stutzman, a farmer, is building it.

The move would raise the annual rent for the conservation district to $53,832 a year - almost nine times the $6,000 a year it pays now at the corner of Clinton and Depot streets.

The extension agency is in a county-owned building at 135 Courthouse Plaza and does not pay rent. Its share of rent in the new building is expected to be $90,168 a year. The rental rates do not include utilities.

Federal authorities are to consider this month whether the U.S. Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service will join the county agencies in the building.

Those two agencies rent part of the same Wauseon building where the county conservation district is located. It is not easy for some handicapped people to enter it.

If the federal agencies join the county offices in the new building, a total of about 21 employees from the four agencies would work in it.



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