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Commissioners to meet virtually, discuss Seneca County Museum and public works bid opening

TiffinOhio.net Staff

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From left: Commissioners Mike Kerschner, Shayne Thomas, and Anthony Paradiso

The Seneca County Board of Commissioners is to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday via Zoom.

In old business, the board is expected to continue its discussion on the Seneca County Museum. Last week, the commissioners discussed an offer the county received from the Barnes-Deinzer Seneca County Museum Foundation to take over operations at the museum.

Foundation officials claim the proposal could lend long-term financial sustainability to the museum, while taking fiscal pressure off of the county’s budget and Seneca County taxpayers. Foundation leaders pitched the proposal because the museum is currently closed due to the financial issues brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, and they hope to stop that from occurring in the future.

According to the proposal, the foundation has played an important role in running the museum. The organization has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for improvements in that time.

Some of those projects include about $100,000 for conservation and restoration of paintings, about $27,000 for repair and maintenance to windows and shutters and $30,000 to the restoration of the museum’s side porch. Foundation officials argue that the nonprofit organization would lend consistent and stable private funding to the museum through its trust funds, which have more than $1 million in them.

Much of the foundation’s funding is restricted, as the organization runs off investment interest and dividends, leading to a consistent funding source long-term. The foundation’s proposal states that the county would still pay for utilities and maintenance, while the foundation would fund and be responsible for all other operational functions.

Under the proposal, the county would lease the building to the foundation for $1 a year. The museum has cost the county about $250,000 to run over the past four years. Under the new proposal, it is likely the cost would be about $12,500 annually to the county.

The Seneca County Museum is the only fully-funded, county-owned museum in the state of Ohio. The museum building was donated to the county in 1942.

According to an opinion from the Seneca County Prosecutor’s Office, there are no restrictions that would affect the county’s ability to “sell the building.”

While the commissioners have indicated they have no intention to sell, they did each agree to consider the foundation’s offer while also hearing opinions from other stakeholders. One option could be to put out a request for proposals so other organizations could make an offer to run the museum in the future.

In other business, at 11 a.m., the board is to open sealed bids for Ohio Public Works Commission Issue I, Round 34.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were no supplemental appropriations or other resolutions to be considered by the board for the meeting this week.

The commissioners are encouraging residents to join them in the online meetings through the application Zoom, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To maintain maximum accessibility, the meetings will be recorded, archived and streamed live through Zoom. Residents can join the meetings by computer or mobile device at the following link: https://zoom.us/j/92595230790.

Residents also can download the Zoom meeting app and join with meeting ID 925 9523 0790. Those who would rather call in and listen to the audio of the meetings can dial (646) 558-8656 and use the meeting ID.

The meeting also is to be streamed on Facebook Live on the Seneca County Commissioners page.

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