County Assessor Wanda O'Neal appeared before county commissioners Monday night during a special session to discuss re-assessments. The county is looking into hiring a contractor to manage some of the duties in the assessor's office. Competitive bids are being solicited from several firms.
"These will be opened and reviewed at a meeting next Monday, March 23 at 6 p.m. They will then be tabled and we'll have a meeting with Wanda to discuss and compare costs," said County Commissioners Gene Beck.
"If they (the contractors) can do it for what they say, it will save a lot of money," said Beck.
O'Neal isn't sure that it will save money. She is concerned that there are more costs involved than what has been presented to commissioners so far. It could also eliminate some jobs in her office.
"We pay our re-assessment people $170,000 a year. They work here. They are there five days a week, 52 weeks a year. We've used contractors before. They say they are going to do x and x and then charge the county more," said O'Neal.
Jim Baird clarified that the $170,000 was just in salaries and did not include health care and other benefits.
Commissioners agreed to open the bids next Monday at 6 p.m. and table them until they can look them over with O'Neal and compare services.
Putnam County Auditor Stephanie Campbell told commissioners that she "tentatively" expects the tax bills to go out in May and be due in June. She is waiting for the state to certify the county's assessment.
"My goal is to tentatively get them out in May," she emphasized.
O'Neal explained her office rolled the data over to the state in December. The Assessor can't send out bills until the state certifies those assessed values. The county is waiting for that certification to come.
Members of the Heritage Lake Property Owners Association appealed to commissioners to take care of some of the roads in the Heritage Lake community with any stimulus money that might come to the county.
Heritage Lake is a private community located in Floyd Township with 2,986 lots and 1,310 permanent residences.
Board Vice President Dan Antico asked commissioners about repairing some of the roads at the Lake, explaining that there has been a lot of new construction growth in the area.
"Since 1998 we have gone from 750 homes to 1,310. Heritage Lake is the second largest population and tax base for the county," said Antico.
He went on to discuss that the roads in Heritage Lake were turned over to the county by the developer in the late 1970s. Since that time, only eight miles of the main drive around the lake (Heritage Drive) was resurfaced.
"Additionally, two and one-half miles of off road drives have been chip and sealed since 2007. The balance of the 31.1 miles of roads have had no work performed since the county took control of the roads over 30 years ago. We believe a total resurface of all roads is necessary and warranted," said Antico.
He went on to explain that a vehicle count for one week conducted in Sept. 2007 by the County Highway Department counted 8,391 vehicles travel in and out of the area in a week.
"Even with the current economic conditions, our community continues to grow. Over the past five years we have averaged over 29 new home permits a year," said Antico.
Commissioners told the group they did not expect to get much in the way of stimulus money. From all the meetings they and other county officials have attended it appears most of the stimulus money will not filter down to small rural areas like Putnam County.
"The last meeting I was at, they said we might, maybe get $10 per commissioner," said Beck. "We might not even get that from what all I hear."
It was recommended they let the state know of their needs.
"The state is going to have the say so for all the money that we do receive. They will make all the decisions," said County Highway Director Dave Sutherlin. Commissioners agreed that would be the best avenue for them to apply for help. They also noted the group had brought the problem to their attention.