Elected Officials discuss KOA property, 2013 budget
By Randa Wagner -
The fate of the former KOA Campground and the 2013 county budget were debated topics during the January 7 Elected Officials meeting.
Prosecutor Charles Howland said they will be setting up meetings with the treasurer’s office to get tax collections back on schedule. The question was raised where things stand with the former KOA campground property on SR 95. The property has gone to auction four times without securing the minimum bid (2/3 of appraised value). Howland said the matter has been turned over to Auditor Mary Holtrey and they are hoping the market will pick up so the minimum can be secured for the parcel. Howland said the auditor has the authority to hold an auditor’s sale and does not have to hold to the 2/3 requirement, if the commissioners choose to sell it for less. Howland believes the value of the property will only go up and hates to see it sell for ‘nothing.’ His recommendation is to hold onto it for awhile.
“I don’t think it has to go to the commissioners; I think it’s my call,” said Treasurer Dan Green. “I’m tired of it sitting there and we’re not getting any money at all in taxes. The property value has decreased because of that and I say let’s get it going. Let’s get it in the hands of someone who will pay taxes on it and clean it up and turn it into something that’s paying more taxes.”
“The only danger we have is to make sure it’s properly advertised, making sure it’s well-known and exposed to a broader market than the [local paper] will put out,” said Commissioner Dick Miller.
“We can advertise it nationwide, if that’s what you want,” responded Howland,
“I don’t say nationwide, but to get the fair market value, it needs to be exposed to the market,” said Miller.
“We could do an absolute auction, if that’s what you want to do,” Howland told commissioners.
Commissioner Tom Whiston said he believes development is coming north and the land value will appreciate.
“All we’ll get are the taxes on it,” Dan Green said.
Judge Howard Hall suggested if an auction is held, hire an auctioneer to ‘do all the legwork’ for a percentage of the sale, He believes all the liens that were against the property have been cancelled. (The lien holders did not show up for the last hearing that was held on the property,)
Howland said he hates to see it go for an amount far less than its appraised value. Sheriff Brenneman said there’s a certain amount of liability when people are vandalizing the property. Howland responded in Ohio there is no liability for trespassers ‘unless we intentionally set up a trap for them.’ He is concerned if the county sells the property for a small sum, someone will turn around in a year and sell it for twice that.
“Whoever buys it has a right to do with it what they want,” said Commissioner Tom Harden.
Commissioner Whiston said the commissioners are trying to wrap up the construction on the courthouse, and the county received their bond rating for their rollover notes. The commissioners handed out the three-month appropriations budget and do not foresee any significant growth for the county.
“We are going to keep the restraints on,” said Whiston, “and our hopes are when we do finalize, that we don’t have the situations like last year where we had to go to the budget commission and see if they would give us additional funds to make it through the year. We are going to maintain a tight reign on spending, our hopes are to generate additional revenues. That means we’ll work with you (elected officials) the best we can but it needs to be a team effort from the standpoint we are still in difficult times and we don’t have a rainy day fund. We need to build up reserves to take care of some of these major expenditures coming down the road.”
Sheriff Steve Brenneman reported three deputies have left the sheriff’s office for other opportunities. One deputy went to work in Jackson County, one retired and one is taking another law enforcement postion in the county this month.
Brenneman also mentioned the floor in the dispatch area of the sheriff’s office is being removed and a new porcelain-ceramic floor is being laid. Wiring is being updated and new desks will be in place for the MARCS radios that will be coming in.
“We have a lot we need to do there but it will take money to do it,” Brenneman said, “We need manpower, we need repairs and maintenance.” He mentioned the commissioners should have received a long list of repairs that need done in the jail, first and foremost — outside lighting.
The jail population averages 50 inmates per day, he noted, from outside housing (inmates from other counties) and ICE detainees, which are down at this time.
Brenneman also mentioned proposed legislation for a ‘gun ban’, namely Senator Dianne Feinstein’s ‘Assault Weapons Bill.’ (Feinstein’s bill will prohibit the “sale, transfer, importation and the possession, not retroactively, but prospectively,” of assault weapons that hold more than 10 bullets.)
Brenneman said if it goes through it will ban and redefine assault weapons, including his service weapon.
“People that currently have them would have to register them and, once you do, you cannot dispose of them, sell them or give them away. They have to be turned in upon the death of the owner,” he said.
Recorder Dixie Shinaberry mentioned a situation where people who come in on the main floor of the courthouse and they have to go back out and around the building to go to municipal court; it’s unpleasant when the weather is bad. She wonders if anything could be done to provide access between the two areas without sending people back outdoors.
Common Pleas Court Judge Howard Hall said he is hoping to be able to utilize the new courtroom soon. There are cubicles in place in the area and he said it would be nice to be able to move the juvenile probation officers in as soon as possible, offering them better facilties to do work in.
“It will help immensely in conducting court business,” he said, adding the case load continues to be as steady as ever.
Technician John Steinhelfer said touch up painting was taking place in the new courtroom area and all wiring is in place. The probation room is done and, if an occupancy permit could be obtained, they could move in to that area. Juvenile probation is moving upstairs but pretrial services and intake (both grant programs) will be using the meeting rooms right outside the courtroom.
Commissioner Whiston brought up the subject of the anti-virus and county computers, particularly cases of malware are ‘skyrocketing’. Whiston said it will cost about $2000 to have the county computers updated. Technician John Steinhelfer said the free versions on the computers are phasing out, The new software, Symantic Cloud, can set up alerts when something is detected and can take care of viruses right away. Steinhelfer said 30,000+ viruses and malwares are being created every month, and the county needs to be proactive.
Treasurer Dan Green reported tax notifications would be sent out in the next day or two.
County Health Commissioner Angela Smith said the commercial plumbing inspector for the Health Dept. would be changing. The local board of health, rather than the state, manages that program for the county. The previous inspector was contracted out of Marion County Health Dept but has retired. Smith said they will probably contract with Richland County for their plumbing inspector’s time.
Smith said the state changed the law to place the manufactured home park program under the Ohio Manufactured Home Park Association, as opposed to the Ohio Dept. of Health.
“It used to be a program we managed at our local health department but no longer,” Smith said. “We opted to have some local control over this with inspection. If we go out on anything other than a public health nuisance (i.e. trash, rodents, insect infestation, the kinds of things that are public health nuisances) we will still have jurisdiction. Anything else, the Manufactured Home Assoc will be responsible for.”
She explained public health nuisances are, in general, and unfunded mandate for the health department. “The association will decide if they want us to go out and reinspect, (if so,) then they will tell us to reinspect. I do expect we will get more public health nuisances in our manufactured home parks going forward.”
Smith said there are about a dozen manufactured home parks in the county.
The sewage rules are in draft form and open for public comment on the Ohio Dept of Health website. Smith said 3–5 years ago the state passed news sewage rules, then rescinded them, reverting the rules back to the early 70s, which to many counties was unacceptable. Morrow County adopted a modified version of the legislation and has been operating very close to what will go into effect soon. So, changes will be minimal but the proposed rules inserted language that would require the health dept to inspect all sewage systems.
“We need to apply for that $400,000 from the Ohio EPA for low income families to help them be able to comply with the law,” Smith said. “We know there are some homes in the county that were built on the 1800s and have no true sewage system and we have nothing on file for them.”
She noted there will be a seven year cycle in which the health department staff will get out to inspect the homes in the county.
“It will work just like the aeration inspection program that we operate currently,” Smith said, “all sewage systems that have mechanized parts that could fail are currently required to get an inspection. This a more proactive approach the state is looking to see.”
The next elected officials meeting will be held the first Monday of February at noon in the commissioners’ meeting room on W. Walnut Street.