Space a premium in County Courthouse

January 22, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

According to Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners, soon the offices of County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn will be moving to the courthouse annex located across the street from the Scioto County Courthouse.

The move according to Crabtree, is happening so room could be made for the offices of judge-elect Marie Hoover of the Fourth District Court of Appeals. Hoover will occupy the Prosecutor’s Office on the second floor of the courthouse once he and his staff have moved.

“We are in the position where we have to put someone in the second floor over there. I think that’s going to be Mark, he’s already agreed to do that, Marie wants to stay in the courthouse. I think his people will be happy with the move, it will give his office more space and likely a little better facilities for what he wants to do,” Crabtree said. “This is our intention and I think that’s going to have to happen, we just don’t know how much money it’s going to cost us.”

He said the county is working against the clock because Hoover is scheduled to take office on Feb. 9 and start work on Feb. 11.

Crabtree said a deal has been worked out with annex owner Ken Rase for the prosecutor to be housed on the second floor of the building located at 612 Sixth Street in Portsmouth.

Crabtree said Rase made an offer to the county, if they were willing to purchase the building. He said the county would first want to get everyone situated into the new space, then the county would consider the offer.

“Even if we don’t buy the place over there, he’s offered it (the rental) to us for a reasonable deal. We are going to get this done, then we are going to go to work trying to acquire that. I don’t know if that can happen or not, it all depends on if the auditor will let us do that,” Crabtree said. “He’s asking $1.5 million for the building. The thing of it is right now, when you total up the rent we’re paying for office spaces around the county. It would be more than enough to pay for the mortgage of the building.”

According to the Scioto County Auditor’s office, the buildings appraised value was $755,600 when it was appraised two years ago.

“We’re looking at some kind of a lease purchase arrangement and that was the number ($1.5 million) he gave us.” Crabtree said. “We would want to have some kind of control over the rent each year. We’re looking at some options that might be available to not only acquire the building, but to keep everything on an even keel.”

Crabtree said the county has not entered into any kind of agreement with Rase, it’s just something they are looking into.

He pointed out that rent rates trend upwards with little fluctuation.

“If we can work some kind of arrangement out this year and over time, could be paying nothing for rent,” Crabtree said.

He said Interim-Economic Development Director Todd Book is working on this project, on behalf of the county.

“We need space, there is no doubt about that. We’re going to have to do something for the long term or we can’t continue to grow. That’s the problem with government now, the rent goes up, utilities go up, insurance goes up and if we can lock something in, we can prevent increases in the future and in the long term it’s going to save us money,” Crabtree said.

Kuhn said the move will mean more space for him and his office.

“The big disadvantage we have right now is, we’ve got assistant prosecutors sharing offices either with each other or with support staff. The downside is that we have no private place to meet with our witnesses and our victims,” Kuhn said.

He said one goal of the new space will be to establish a space where assistant prosecutors can meet with people in private.

“We’ve looked at the facilities, they are really nice facilities. They are more typical of an office than we have here,” Kuhn said.

Hoover said the office space will work out great for her and her staff.

“I think this is great for everyone, Mark will have plenty of room for all of his staff,” Hoover said. “My staff and I will move into the prosecutor’s office.”

Crabtree said the county is also working to get estimates to fix the roof on the courthouse with costs predicted to be around $200,000.

“We’ve got some people coming in to look at that (roof), we have the money set aside for that. We’re going to try to get that taken care of as early as we can this year,” Crabtree said.

He said because of the shape the roof is currently in, it has made the fourth floor uninhabitable.

“We can’t do any repairs or remodeling without fixing the problem. We have a lot of things we’ve got to do and a lot of things we have to deal with,” Crabtree said.

Last week the county received encouraging financial news. Permissive sales tax for the county is $50,000 above estimations for the month of November. It’s being estimated the county will be receiving $183,570.37 at the end of January, for the first quarter of the year in state casino tax. Thus far, the fund is $46,570.37 above budget estimates.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com