Funding requests create quandary for county budget
By TAYLOR KASER –
The Morrow County commissioners addressed questions about the status of the county’s general fund budget at their April 25 regular meeting.
“We’ve got just the routine unforeseen expenses that are going to be hard to meet,” said Commissioner Tom Whiston. “We’re going to continue to evaluate it, but if we don’t have additional funds come in, we’re always having requests for things that come up that aren’t budgeted.”
Some of those requests included the Board of Elections — who received $141,000 but want an additional $54,000 for the upcoming election. Common Pleas Court is requesting $338,000 in additional funds for routine operations.
“It’s going to be difficult. I don’t think people realize how hard,” Whiston went on to say. “The thing that people need to understand is: based upon what the Auditor approved for funding to certify, we’ve allocated every penny of that. The fact that when I tell these agencies and departments, for example: When the Judges say we need $338,000, that means we have to take it from somewhere. Come this fall, things will get dicey.”
Whiston mentioned a cut in funding that will be taken by Mt. Gilead school.
“Chartwell Green, which is a development in Mt. Gilead, asked for a reduction in their property taxes retroactive four years based on based upon a supreme court decision,” he said. “The Supreme Court has already ruled. They’re looking at $160,000 that has already been collected and will be taken back from Mt. Gilead schools. About $40,000 for each year (from 2009 — 2012) will be recouped. 80% of that money goes to the schools. 10% will come from the local government budget.”
Whiston also noted there was no disclosure to the schools, because the decision that was handed down was actually done after the project was approved.
“What was the Supreme Court ruling that lets them do that?” asked a meeting attendee.
“The basis of the of the cash value — as opposed to the appraised value,” Whiston explained. “In other words, they’re saying that if they went to the open market, they could only get ‘this much’ for it, as opposed to if Tom wanted to buy it, what it’s actually worth. Because they have the tax credit restraints that limit their ability to set the rents. So because of that, they’re saying that encumbers their ability to market that at a fair price. Therefore, we have to use what 4.2 1.6 assessment — which was not explained at the time, it’s subsidized rent.”
Chartwell is owned by Woda out of Westerville, and they own similar neighborhoods across the country.
“We can’t do anything about it, but I am going to find out how we correct it,” Whiston said, “because that shouldn’t happen to a local community. We’re subjected after the fact by the Supreme Court that they don’t have to do that, whereas everybody else has to pay their taxes. This is something that very much benefits one set of people while taking it from everybody, which I don’t like that concept.”
Intoher business, a contract between the Morrow County Child Support Enforcement Agency and Court of Common Pleas was accepted. Reimbursement is required by the state. By submitting the proper paperwork, the court can receive up to $35,195.83 in reimbursement for their work.
A draw down request from the Community Housing Improvement Program was accepted for a private home rehabilitation.
The application of brine upon private and county roads was discussed at the commissioners April 30 meeting. A public hearing to consider two applications submitted by Walter and Karen Fishburn for using brine for ice and dust control is set for May 16 at 9:30 a.m. Yearly brine permits are issued by the state, the county can only submit its recommendation or disapproval of the application. The final decision, as well as permit fees, go to The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said Commissioner Tom Harden.
Also discussed was how often the brine will be spread and where the brine comes from. Harden said that the brine used is from local wells, not from out of state. The application says that the brine will be used as needed, depending on weather. The application outlines places and times that brine may not be applied. It is not to be applied to vegetation or, “Within 12 feet of structures crossing bodies of water or crossing drainage ditches.”
Commissioner Olen Jackson commented that application is monitored by neighbors, and said that he has only received one complaint connected to this use of brine during his tenor of commissioner.
“My concern is that ODNR, they take money — but how often do they come out to check where it’s going?” Jackson asked. “Unless someone calls and registers a complaint, I doubt seriously they ever check.”
Jackson also gave updates for the county’s Wellness Program. He discussed positive effects that the program is having for county employees. Last week, coordinators of the county’s wellness program, including Pat Davies, were invited to speak at the County Commissioners of Ohio Association’s Wellness meeting in Columbus.
The commissioners accepted the resignation of Marilyn Smith from the Morrow County Hospital Board of Trustees. Approval to sell a 2002 Ford Crown Victoria was given.
Certified monies were appropriated to the Community Service Building for Interest/Bond Retirement and repairs and maintenance totalling $12,090.
May is being recognized as Community Action Month. Active for over 45 years in the county, Community Action aids in child development, emergency services, and senior programming among other duties.
Darlene McElroy and Roger Smith were reappointed to Morrow County Regional Planning Commission.