MAYVILLE - The county borrowed about $1 million from the County Home back in 1982.
That debt was repaid in recent years though, which lawmakers found out Wednesday from County Finance Director Darin Schulz.
The question came up during the legislature's budget review process, when County Home officials appeared before the Human Services Committee to talk about their tentative budget for 2012.
County Finance Director Darin Schulz, left, discusses the County Home with legislator Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
As part of the legislature's review, lawmakers repeated questions which were posed to them last month by a county employee.
Rose Conti, CSEA Unit 6300 president, asked the body about the money which the county borrowed back in 1982 - and whether it had ever been repaid. The full transcript of her questions can be found online with this article at www.post-journal.com.
On Wednesday, when lawmakers were questioning County Home officials, they found out that, yes, the debt was repaid.
"So it's not the $5 million figure I've heard out there? It was a little over $1 million? And it was paid back?"
"So it's not the $5 million figure I've heard out there," asked Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown. "It was a little over $1 million? And it was paid back?"
County Finance Director Darin Schulz confirmed that the equity was returned in either the county's 2009 or 2010 budgets.
Another question posed by Conti last month was about the gas well at the County Home, and why it's not yet operational.
If hooked up, the gas well could cut the County Home's natural gas costs.
"I did not realize until our last legislature meeting that that had not been hooked up," Nazzaro said. "It was to generate savings, as I understand it. ... Hopefully it will be hooked up because why drill a well if it's not going to be hooked up?"
According to Tim Hellwig, County Home administrator, the well was dug, but has yet to be connected.
"It was designed in two phases, simply because we didn't want to expend and allocate the dollars for the plumbing piece of it, the connection piece, until we knew we had a productive well," Hellwig said. "Once we established that, we submitted a request to make that connection.
"The county executive at that time apparently was having some concerns voiced by, I think, some legislators of the actual cost of the well itself so he asked that we not proceed until he had a chance to do his fact-finding and address those concerns," Hellwig continued. "I believe he is in the process of still doing that. As of yesterday, he advised me that he's not quite there yet. He hasn't given the approval, but he does expect to give me an answer soon."
Hellwig also said that how much the County Home stands to benefit from the well depends on the market value of gas.
"The commodity right now is considerably less than when we originally projected," Hellwig said. "So we're not in any great rush to get this hooked up. In fact, it may be to our advantage not to connect it for a little while until the natural gas price comes up."
When first assessed, Hellwig said the well was projected to be able to provide all of the County Home's natural gas needs for several years - between seven and 10 years. According to Hellwig, the County Home spends close to $250,000 a year for natural gas.