Commissioners hear update from mental health board, debate uses for $10.7M in federal funds
Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners heard a brief update from Mircea Handru, the executive director for the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties, Thursday morning.
Handru said the potential addition of Ottawa County’s mental health board is still pending. He said all paperwork had been submitted to the state. Officials hope the merger can occur before July 1. Handru was joined by New Housing Ohio Regional Manager Heather Pollick to provide updates on several housing programs.
The pair shared success stories on several mental health and recovery group homes throughout Seneca County. Handru said that a large majority of residents are rent compliant and are working full-time jobs as they work through their recovery.
In other business, the commissioners held a work session to discuss potential uses for $10.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds.
Last week, the county received the first of two identical $5,358,840 disbursements. On Thursday County Administrator Stacy Wilson shared some of the guidance provided by the federal government, including some categorizations from the National Association of Counties (NaCO). There are seven classifications on how the funding can be used:
- Support of the public health response to COVID-19 pandemic;
- Support businesses, citizens and other entities in mitigating the negative economic ramifications of the health crisis;
- Premium pay for work performed by employees of state, local or tribal governments;
- Payroll expenses for public health and safety service employees
- The replacement of public sector revenue losses;
- Water and sewer infrastructure;
- Rural broadband internet infrastructure.
The board discussed some general ideas, including a $2,000 premium payment to county employees under the commissioners’ purview (about 362 employees). The cost would be about $724,000. Wilson said the payments could be modeled off a similar program the city of Tiffin approved earlier this year. The commissioners agreed it could be a good use of the funds to reward employees for the heightened risk of infection and additional workload created by the health crisis.
The board did not act Thursday morning because funding cannot be put into place until after the next Budget Commission meeting on June 2. Another option for the funding could include capital improvement requests made by Seneca County Sheriff Fred Stevens.
In other action, Board President Mike Kerschner said he and Commissioner Anthony Paradiso spent time in Columbus on Tuesday as Kerschner testified in favor of substitute Senate Bill 52. Kerschner said the legislation being proposed would take steps toward giving local citizens and governments more influence on the fate of alternative energy projects in their area.
Also during the session, the commissioners encouraged county residents to come to the Frost Parkway area and the Seneca County Museum on Memorial Day for some planned events to honor soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country. Events are scheduled from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., including tours at the museum from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. This will mark the first time the museum has been open since March of 2020.
During new business, the board approved:
- A $150 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund for Common Pleas Court II Travel and expenses.
- A $3,000 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund for Commissioners Travel and Expenses.
- A $4,000 supplemental appropriation to the Drugged Driving Enforcement Fund for salaries, and an $84 supplemental appropriation to the same fund for the Workers Compensation Line.
- A contract with Pictometry International Corp. for the digital aerial photography of Seneca County on behalf of the Seneca County Auditor.
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