By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw
WARSAW — Kosciusko County Council has approved using $2.4 million in its American Rescue Plan fund for a major renovation of the Justice Building’s carpet, wallpaper and paint.
Officials on Thursday debated whether ARPA funds are the best use of the money, with councilmember Joni Truex saying she’d rather see if for broader uses that benefit all county residents.
Councilwoman Sue Ann Mitchell warned it was a once-in-a-lifetime windfall from the federal government and reiterated her request that officials need to develop an ongoing maintenance program.
“We have this money that we’ve been blessed with — and that’s great. But we’re never gonna have another $2.4 million land in our laps like this money has,” Mitchell said. “So the proof is going to be in the pudding going forward with budgets. if we do not maintain these buildings, they’re going to fall down around us.”
The county appears to be making strides toward developing a 10-year maintenance plan for all county buildings.
Interior upgrades to the Justice Building are the first to the 40-year-old building.
The county recently established a revitalization committee focused on maintaining county property.
Council also provided an itemized breakdown of the proposed project and some elected officials toured the three-story building ahead of last week’s meeting.
That led to a revelation from Council President Mike Long about more work that is needed.
“My understanding is ceilings are not part of this, correct?” Long said Thursday. “I looked at the ceilings and that was my first comment to (county administrator Marsha McSherry): Are we doing anything with the ceilings? Well, no. So we have additional needs beyond the $2.4 million which is sad, but there again, it’s been 40 years. Things wear out.”
Long did not detail exactly what the problems are with the ceiling.
Council approved the plan by a 6-1 vote with Truex voting no.