MOUNT VERNON — Contractors gathered at the Knox County Commissioners Office on Monday morning to watch the bid openings for two county paving contracts.
The first contract involves paving approximately two miles of the Heart of Ohio Trail near Mount Liberty, according to Knox County Parks Director Kim Marshal, who was present for the bid opening, along with a representative of engineering firm Floyd Browne of Delaware.
Of the four bids received for the Heart of Ohio Trail project, the apparent low bidder was Mid-Ohio Asphalt of Centerburg, with a bid of $196,745.71, less than half of the estimate of $411,000 provided by Floyd Browne, the engineering firm from Delaware which drew up the plans for the paving project. Knox County Commissioner Teresa Bemiller, who opened the bids, said Floyd Browne’s engineers will now look over the bid for any problems, before the contract is formally awarded.
The second lowest bid of $291,012 was submitted by Kokosing Construction.
The next project, the paving of a new parking lot at the Knox County Developmental Disabilities Board building which also houses New Hope Early Education Center on Upper Gilchrist Road, had only one bidder, Small’s Sand and Gravel of Gambier. That project was bid at $106,489.
Knox County DD Board Superintendent Steve Oster said the project will provide much needed additional parking at the board’s offices. Knox County Engineer Jim Henry said the contract would be drawn up for the project soon, and sent to the commissioners and Oster, for signatures, presuming no major issues are found with the board.
“This should be a good project,” Henry told Oster and the commissioners.
Matthew Kurtz, director of Knox County Department of Jobs & Family Services, met with the commissioners after the bid openings, to discuss the current trends in his office, where state budget cutbacks have already reduced staff, and are expected to continue to slash spending next year.
“We’re looking at modernization,” Kurtz said. “Ways to do our job more efficiently because of the state’s budget for ‘12-’13 being so austere and daunting.”
“I know there are a lot of rumors flying around,” Kurtz said of his office. “I guess at the end of the day, what it really comes down to is the unknown.”
One of the options being considered to help streamline services, and reduce the amount of time staff will spend with public assistance recipients, is to move some of the registration procedures online.
Kurtz said during state meetings he attended last week where budget cuts were discussed, most of the belt tightening was proposed on the public assistance side of services, not in the children and family services department.
The struggling economy has increased the need for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, according to Kurtz, who said he thinks the public may not realize the large numbers of residents currently seeking assistance.
“I think we’ve lost that visual impact that we used to see, because there are no longer the long lines of people waiting for benefits,’’ Kurtz said, referring to past eras of economic struggle where long lines of welfare applicants could be seen waiting for long periods of time.
Kurtz said Knox County is faring better than many counties, because of levy money approved by voters two years ago, which funds his department.
“Thankfully, the people of Knox County renewed our levy in 2008,” he said. “That gives us until 2018.”
The commissioners voted to enter executive session with Kurtz, to discuss personnel issues of which Kurtz said he would like to make the commissioners aware.