CLARION – “That’s a historic moment in Clarion County.” With these words, Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan described the adoption of county’s first five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

The county’s new CIP was approved unanimously by Tharan and fellow Commissioners Wayne Brosius and Ed Heasley at their regular meeting on Dec. 26.

“It provides a roadmap for the county’s future,” Tharan said of the plan, which outlines 11 projects county officials hope to tackle between 2020 and 2024. “If it’s set up right...and everybody’s prudent with the money, you can eliminate a lot of waste and plan for things.”

According to information provided by Clarion County interim fiscal director Rose Logue, who was instrumental in creating the plan, the CIP will focus on three common components — including the construction, expansion or major renovation of public buildings or facilities, investment in technology or communications systems, and the acquisition of buildings or land for public purpose.

One distinguishing feature of the CIP is that it has a fund balance policy designed to “maintain a balance of between 14 and 16 percent of the general fund operating budget.” Tharan noted that the current $2,468,280 in this fund can be used only in the case of an emergency — such as a lack of state funding or tax revenue — so the county doesn’t have to borrow money.

There is also a designated debt service of $276,603. With $500,000 being designated for capital improvement in 2019, the CIP has a remaining balance of $1,312,504 for capital improvements.

Part of the motion to adopt the CIP was a requirement that changes to the plan can only be made with formal board action.

“That way it will stay in place,” Tharan said, noting that the contingency will help keep the public informed if anyone wants to deviate from the already-established plan.

Brosius and Heasley explained that the CIP will also help with the transition for future boards of commissioners.

“It acts as a guide, so when the next board comes in they’ll see it’s here,” Heasley said of the plan.

“At least they’ll know that these are some things they probably need to think about doing in the next four years,” Brosius added.

Among the projects outlined in Clarion County’s 2020-2024 CIP are:

• Clarion County Courthouse Renovations — highest/essential priority. Estimated cost: $800,000.

The renovations include new windows, heat system and air-conditioning, ADA compliant bathrooms, drains, flooring, sound system, benches, lighting and painting.

• Human Services Building Renovations — highest/essential priority. Estimated cost: $300,000.

The updates include heat system, central air, windows, flooring, doors, ceiling tiles, lights and paint.

• 911 Center/Emergency Management Renovation or Relocation — highest/essential priority. Estimated cost: $400,000.

The drainage system needs to be addressed, and a number of maintenance projects need to be completed.

“The relocation of the 911 Center/Emergency Management also needs to be reviewed to determine the positive benefits of increased record storage, county-owned vehicles and equipment being housed in one accessible location and improved efficiency, making space available for other needs within the county,” the plan states.

• Clarion County Jail Renovations — highest/essential priority. Estimated cost: $225,000.

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Renovations include heating and air conditioning system, roof replacement and the addition of security cameras.

• Telephone System Life Cycle Replacement — Estimated cost: $57,678.

Purchase and replace outdated telephone systems and equipment with new communications technology as existing hardware reaches the end of its useful life.

• Virtualization Backup System — desirable priority. Estimated cost: $100,000 to $170,000.

Purchase a virtual backup system for county use.

“The county’s informational technology department needs to protect the county’s computer system and data,” the plan states.

• Public Safety Communications System — desirable (long-term) priority. Estimated cost: between $3 million and $4.7 million.

Review and update the 911 Center communication systems.

The entire five-year CIP can be viewed on the county’s website, www.co.clarion.pa.us.

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