PDT Staff Writer
After the offices of Fourth District Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Matthew McFarland flooded Monday, he attended the Tuesday meeting of the Scioto County Commissioners looking for a long term solution to the reoccurring issue.
The flooding occurred because of a clogged downspout on the roof of the Scioto County Courthouse. The flooding forced the office to shutdown until temporary space could be found.
“At the present time our office is uninhabitable, we are going to have to move into the courthouse annex indefinitely. There is still severe leakage in my office at this time. This is the third time this has happened since I’ve taken office. To be quite frank and blunt, I’m very disappointed that it happened,” McFarland said. “This is unacceptable at this time.”
He said there is severe leakage in four areas of his offices. During the meeting, McFarland was seeking answers about the issue from the commissioners. McFarland asked, if there was an engineering study prior to work starting on the current roof replacement project.
“One was done before the last roof was put on in 1988,” said Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners.
He said that study was not updated before crews started replacing the current roof.
McFarland asked of Crabtree if the county would now consider having an engineering study conducted before work continues.
“Obviously we have to fix the problem, we all have our opinion of what the problem is, opinions are not reality,” Crabtree said. “We have to try and figure out what that (problem) is. It’s been a major disaster over the last couple of days and up until then, this is the first time I’ve been aware of that particular problem or what created it.”
Crabtree acknowledged that something needs to be done to address the ongoing issue.
“We’ve got our insurance company and a number of other people looking at this. We’re going to follow their lead, whatever they suggest we do. Could it have been vandalism (that caused the clogged downspout), maybe or it could have been an accident.”
McFarland asked if the drains were checked before crews left, knowing rain was in the forecast.
“I think it would be a fair assumption that if you are taking a roof off, the probability of debris or some problems like that, would have been checked for. How the pop bottles got in there I don’t know, obviously they don’t need to be in there and the roofers don’t need to be drinking pop on top of the roof,” Crabtree said.
McFarland then inquired why crews were not called in on Monday, when the flooding occurred.
“We intend to call them today (Tuesday), but I wanted to talk to our maintenance man to see if he thought it was their responsibility to do the repairs because of the leaks or if it is the responsibility of the insurance company. If it’s negligence on their part (the roofing company) then we intend to go after them to pay for the damages,” Crabtree said.
McFarland said, “if we know there is a problem with the roofer, should we consider continuing that relationship with those individuals? At what point to do say this workmanship is not acceptable to us. At that point you have to decide, do we want to continuing using this outfit that’s put judge McFarland’s office out of business, temporarily. I know what I would do in your situation, but you have to make the decision.”
In response, Crabtree said the county is considering options.
“We’re not going to jump down the drain ourselves, we’re going to try to find out what happened and make an intelligent decision on this,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree said there is no contingency plan in place for this situation, but they are still trying to figure it out.
“We have a lot of places (on the roof) where water is running through the rubber, is that what caused all of the problems in the courthouse? Initially that’s what we thought it was, we needed to cover the roof,” Crabtree said. “…We’re trying to do the best we can with the budget we have and we’re going to do the best we can to fix your problem.”
He said the county will follow the lead of the insurance company.
“I’m not going to hire a bunch of engineers to come in here until I figure out what I’m going to do. I’m not going to have them start in the middle of the street and follow the drains to the roof,” Crabtree said. “I know we’ve got a problem and most of it is on the roof. There is a lot of problems on the roof other than what you (McFarland) have.”
McFarland said, when a similar situation happened in 2010, he and his staff were displaced for about a week and a half.
“I’m very frustrated in the sense that the people that caused the problem were not contacted yesterday (Monday), they have not been contacted today (Tuesday),” McFarland said.
Commissioner Doug Coleman said a representative from the roofing company and the county’s insurance company were there Tuesday morning to further assess the damage.
McFarland then inquired about monies available to fix the issue.
When asked how much unencumbered money the county has, Crabtree replied, none.
“We have carryover but we don’t have anything we can touch without going directly to the finance commission,” Crabtree said. “Everything we do we have to go through the finance commission.”
No future meetings are scheduled for the finance commission and are being scheduled on an as needed basis.
Crabtree said their is no county emergency funds that can be devoted to this. Although he did not rule out the possibility of calling a special meeting of the finance commission, to ask for necessary funding.
McFarland then brought up the fact that he as a judge on the Fourth District Court of Appeals he does not have to be housed in Scioto County.
“I don’t have to be in Scioto County, I’ve chosen Scioto County for the last eight years because this is my home. I live here I brought jobs here and I brought revenue here for eight years,” McFarland said. “You’ve (Scioto County) have profited from my office being here. I don’t have to be here and I don’t want to leave. But, I’m getting tension from you (Crabtree), and you want to get argumentative with me.”
McFarland said he could not tell the commissioners when he’s willing to move back into the courthouse.
In a conversation with the Daily Times after the meeting, McFarland said he is exploring all options when it comes to the future location of his office.
On Feb. 21, the Scioto County Financial Planning and Supervision Commission met for the first time in 2013 and approved $180,000 in funding for various projects. Among the approved projects were $99,990 in a contract for the replacement of the courthouse roof to Five Star Commercial Roofing.
Chris McCoy, of the Auditor of State’s office updated the commission on the positive financial position of the county. He said the county had a $1.5 million carryover in its general fund at the end of the year, with all other funds showing a positive balance.
On March 7, the Scioto County Commissioners approved a change order to the ongoing courthouse roof replacement project. The change order could result in an additional $23,000 being added to the overall cost of the project. The additional money is being used to repair a damaged insulation layer that was discovered after the project began.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or email@example.com.