By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER

Hancock County took another step toward expanding its jail Thursday when the Hancock County commissioners approved a resolution to seek letters of qualification from companies that could do a justice system assessment study.

The study is a requirement before the county can proceed with either expanding the jail or building a new one.

The method for choosing a firm will be similar to how a company was selected to design a new building to house probate/juvenile court, said Assistant Prosecutor Cindy Land.

Each commissioner will review credential information received from the request, individually rank the companies and then collectively decide the top companies to interview.

A final ranking will be done after the interviews. Then the commissioners will negotiate with their top pick on a contract to do a justice system study.

If an agreement can’t be finalized, then the commissioners would negotiate with the second-ranked company and on down the line, if necessary, until an agreement is determined between the two sides.

The existing jail, which also serves the City of Findlay, is more than 20 years old and is cramped for cell space for inmates, and lacks room for programs to assist inmates.

Sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Kidwell, who is the jail administrator, said the next step would be a needs assessment, which would address the need for areas to provide programs to assist inmates.

Separately, the commissioners approved the transfer of about $287,226 from sales tax revenue to the Flood Mitigation Capital Projects Fund. It’s the last payment from a voter-approved 10-year additional sales tax, which expired at year-end 2018.

When it expired, the commissioners approved a quarter-percent sales tax on a permanent basis so there would be funding for the building projects and other ongoing county needs.

The balance in the flood mitigation fund was more than $20.9 million as of Dec. 31, but there are bills to be paid from that amount. One of the larger bills is for the “benching” work being done along the Blanchard River in Findlay.

Separately, the purchase of a road widener machine from Ohio CAT by the county engineer’s office was approved by the commissioners. Cost is $174,586 and the net cost will be $147,086 after a $27,500 trade-in credit for two obsolete pieces of equipment.

Maurer: 419-427-8420
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