TIFFIN — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners held a digital meeting Thursday in which they expressed support for a designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA) program in Downtown Tiffin, heard from a liaison for the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, and designated May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
The commissioners received an update from Jacob Huner, who serves as a regional liaison for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
Huner said he is the “eyes, ears, feet and legs” for the SOS in 16 counties, including Seneca.
He said the secretary of state oversees elections but also has an important role in authorizing the opening of businesses in Ohio.
Huner said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the economy, but he credited Ohioans for their resiliency, as there were still 11,447 businesses filing to be opened in April.
This number was more than the monthly average for 2019. Huner also discussed the Secretary of State’s cybersecurity directive.
The 39-point checklist was implemented by all 88 counties in January of this year.
He commended the Seneca County Board of Elections for its work in complying with the directive quickly and efficiently.
“Your directors, Jim (Ehrman) and Lori (Ritzler) were very proactive,” Huner said. “They do absolutely stunning work.”
Huner said the Seneca County Board of Elections was chosen for a state pilot program for online campaign finance. That program should go live at the end of the year.
“I was happy to suggest Seneca County after the great work on cybersecurity,” he said.
Huner said the Secretary of State’s office is now turning its attention to the November election, with about five months to prepare.
He said due to uncertainty about COVID-19, the plans are flexible. He said several pieces of legislation are being considered at the state level about the upcoming election.
Huner said LaRose hopes to have in-person voting in November, but the ultimate decision will be in the hands of the state legislature.
In other business, the board voted unanimously to send a letter of support to the city of Tiffin for its proposed Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) program.
The program would allow alcohol to be consumed on sidewalks within the designated zone. The latest proposal for the DORA is to take place from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., seven days a week.
The board is offering county-owned property to be included in the DORA, with an exception for the area around the Seneca County Justice Center. The commissioners say their support of the program is an example of how they are attempting to help local businesses through a difficult and unforeseen time brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, the board allowed the city of Tiffin to use park benches on county-owned property for the benefit of businesses and customers.
In other action, the board approved a proclamation recognizing May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
Also during the meeting, County Administrator Stacy Wilson gave the commissioners an update on General Fund financials.
Revenue and expenses were each at about $1.2 million for May.
So far this year, revenue has been about $9 million, while expenses have been about $7.6 million.
Due to a lag in when counties receive sales tax revenue, the extent to which the COVID-19 crisis will affect revenue has not yet been fully realized.