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Commissioners approve more CARES Act funding for county projects, continue museum talks

TiffinOhio.net Staff

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

TIFFIN — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners approved an additional $181,950.11 of CARES Act funding for county projects during Thursday morning’s meeting.

The newest approvals mean the county has committed to spending $288,783.39 of the roughly $923,000 received by the county in the first wave of CARES Act funding from the state and federal government.

Projects that were approved include safety services payroll, sanitation, masks and cleaning supplies; deep cleaning of heating ducts and airflow systems; Zoom subscriptions for online meetings; laptops and equipment for employees working at home and equipment to take temperatures of people entering buildings.

County Administrator Stacy Wilson informed the board that the county is to receive an additional $461,945.15 in the second wave of payments through the CARES Act. A third wave also is expected.

The county is relying on a Coronavirus Relief Fund Committee to decide what projects are allowable by law before the commissioners vote on the approval of funding.

A good portion of the money above what has already been committed is likely accounted for, as several county departments coded hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses as being due to COVID-19, but the CRF Committee is awaiting official requests on those expenses before they reach the board.

County officials also are holding back some expenses as they await the status of applications for other grants, which would mean the county could then use the CARES Act funding for other projects.

The commissioners discussed creating programs that could lend direct assistance to business owners and residents if there is leftover money available.

In other business, Commissioner Mike Kerschner presented his thoughts on the museum situation, suggesting that the county accept the Barnes-Deinzer Seneca County Museum Foundation’s proposal to take over operations at the museum. Kerschner presented this document.

He said when he removed emotions and personalities from the situation, he found that the foundation’s offer was the most logical path forward because it is in the best interest of county taxpayers.

He said he believes the resources offered by the foundation would reduce the financial burden on the taxpayers, while also increasing the probability of the long-term viability of the museum.

Kerschner said the annual cost of the museum is about $70,000, adding that he thought that money could be put to better use, as the foundation takes on those costs.

“The savings created by this decision would allow the county to use those funds on other pressing matters, like EMS coverage or sheriff’s office training, equipment and personnel,” he said.

Commissioner Shayne Thomas gave some positive and some negative feedback on the plan and Commissioner Tony Paradiso asked for more time to consider both sides of the issue.

The board is expected to continue its discussion on the matter next week.

Also during the meeting, some of the planned agenda topics were moved to next week, as the commissioners’ office suffered a power outage just before the meeting, leading to device battery issues.

During new business, the commissioners approved:

  • A $5,500 supplemental appropriation to the Special Projects Fund for equipment.
  • A $150,000 fund transfer to the Children Services Fund. Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services Director Kathy Oliver explained that the money was needed as costs for foster care have increased during the pandemic.
  • The 2020 sewer rates for 23/224 Sewer District beginning in the fourth quarter.
  • Certifying unpaid assessments to the county auditor for collection, per ORC 6117.02.

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