Overdue property taxes discussed at February Elected Officials meeting

By Donna Carver

February 18, 2014

Morrow County elected officials were briefed on outstanding property taxes by Morrow County Treasurer Tim Garry at the February 3, 2014 elected officials meeting.

He explained that his office ran a query of the system to determine how much was owed in back taxes prior to 2012.

“We have money owed by 2,300 individual tax payers that owe the county money, between 530 to 560 are Candlewood properties,” said Garry. “Some of the properties, the people are deceased and Candlewood has turned down the deed in lieu of payment of their past association fees. I would like to aggressively go after that, because it is 4.2 million dollars worth of debt that we are carrying on the books.”

He shared that his office will be doing a delinquent tax payer list similar to what they normally do in the fall however, this list will only be people who owe money prior to 2012 with the hope that it will encourage people to pay their taxes.

County Commissioner Dick Miller asked Garry if he had a dollar amount on just the Candlewood property taxes. Garry stated that he did not have that figure with him but would get that information to him. Miller asked how much of the 4.2 million was back taxes from H.P.M. Garry indicated that that was not included in the 4.2 million dollar figure.

Garry shared that a bank did pay someone’s taxes in error.

“We had a bank pay someone else’s taxes by accident, and they wanted us to give the money back, and I said ‘I am sorry that you took the money out of somebody’s account and paid somebody else’s taxes with it, but the taxes are paid.’”

In other reports, Morrow County Health Department Commissioner Angela Smith shared that under the wellness program, the health department can fund up to 18 scholarships to the CHIP, Complete Health Improvement Program that Dr. McCrae offers. The program teaches lifestyle modifications for diabetes, hypertension and chronic conditions that can be improved by diet and exercise. She noted that normally the program costs $699 dollars however county employees that are insure and insured adult family members will be able to enroll in the program for $60. “This is a good opportunity for any staff that has underlying conditions, it is to our benefit. If we can control those things we can control a lot of costs.” Said Smith. She explained that the Health Department will be working with Dr. McCrae to provide informational sessions to make employees aware of what is available to them. They will accept registrations for the scholarships and if there are more than 18 people to apply they will decide how to prioritize the list.

Smith noted that the Health Department is working with the Community Center to hold an open house there and shared that there is a 25% discount for the County employees to join the community center.

Smith updated attendees on the new sewage rule changes noting that the implementation date continues to be delayed. The Health Dept. will be giving presentations for anyone who is interested. The cost will go up for new sewage systems which will require the applicant to hire a soil scientist and an engineer which will greatly impact the cost for new systems. “We have one of the oldest septic system rules on the books in the United States.” Said Smith “The Ohio Dept. of Health has been dealing with a lot of these issues. Instead of moving incrementally over time it is an extreme push forward. We have cost concerns and have expressed that.” She said.

Smith shared that the EPA grant funds that the development office used to get over and above the revolving loan fund which has assisted with septic issues in the past is no longer being given to the county. “At the same time they are cutting assistance they are pushing for higher cost systems.” Smith noted. She explained that older systems are grandfathered in as long as they work but when they fail new systems will be required to be repaired or replaced under the new rules. She noted that new home builds will be subject to the new rules.

County engineer Randy Bush updated attendees on the road salt situation stating “It’s been a long hard winter, we are still working on the salt allotment but we are getting low.” He said. “We were furnishing it (salt) to the townships but we have had to curtail that, we are getting low.” Noted Bush. He explained that the state is pushing to extend the contract for salt but the cost has increased doubling the price. “How we get through the winter will dictate how much money we have to do pave and do roadwork. We are hoping that it won’t be too bad.” He said.

Bush shared that the engineer’s office opened bids for the Meyers ditch project. He explained that there were three bids but there was a wide discrepancy between the low bid and the second lowest bid. Bush explained that he had to get some clarification and after doing so recommends accepting the lowest bid.

Bush noted that the engineers office will need to buy a new dump truck and they are in the process of looking for one. He explained that some of the ones currently in use are 25 years old. The cost of a new dump truck is estimated to be between $175,000 and $200,000.

Bush gave a quick update on the bridge project. He shared that the initial plans have been submitted and they are hoping to get them started by March or April.

Judge Hall reported that there are a couple of major criminal trials coming up. One of the trials will be in Judge Hall’s courtroom and a murder trial in Judge Hickson’s courtroom. Hall shared that there has been quite a bit of sickness at the courthouse but they are now close to full staff.

Prosecutor Charles Howland elaborated on the two upcoming big trials. “We have the Cory Jackson (aggravated vehicular homicide) trial and then the Cory Kelly (tampering with evidence in a murder) trial. These two trials are consuming a lot of time and resources putting civil issues behind. “They (civil issues) are important and we will get to them but it is going to take a while,” said Howland.

Sheriff Brenneman gave an update on the immigration ICE inspections. “There are a few issues and we will continue to have issues, “ said Brenneman. He continued, “There is no water in the Barber shop. Technically the jail does not have a Barber shop but it is a requirement to have one to house immigration inmates so a room is modified to use as a barbershop and the sheriff is trying to get a written variance.

Brenneman reported that cruisers continue to be a major issue. He shared that two jail transport cars are “shot” and have over 200,000 miles, four cars have over 150,000 miles and three cars have over 90,000. Two cars have fewer than 90,000 miles and one of those hit a deer and is in a repair shop the other needs repair because it was rammed but an irate person. Three cars are completely out of service one of which recently hitting another deer.

County Commissioner Tom Whiston closed the meeting by reminding attendees of two levies that will be on the May ballot. One for The Morrow County Board of Developmental Disabilities and one is for the Extension Office. “We are supportive of both levies.” said Commissioner Tom Whiston.

The next elected officials meeting will be March 3, 2014 at noon at the commissioners hearing room, 80 North Walnut Street, Mt. Gilead.