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Commissioners congratulate local track and field champion, election official

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From left: Seneca County Commissioners Mike Kerschner, Anthony Paradiso, and Tyler Shuff

Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners congratulated a local high school student for winning the State Pole Vaulting Championship Thursday morning during its meeting.

Commissioner Mike Kerschner kicked off his report with several positive notes.

“We have a young man from Mohawk High School, Zaiden Fry, who was able to accomplish a school record while winning the state championship in the pole vault,” he said. “We’d like to give our sincere congratulations to him.”

Fry, who is a sophomore, cleared 14 feet and 6 inches during the state meet last weekend.

Kerschner also congratulated Seneca County Board of Elections Deputy Director Lori Ritzler for being named Pat Wolfe Democratic Election Official of the Year at the Secretary of State’s Summer Conference.

Ritlzer joined BOE Director Jim Ehrman, as a winner of the award since Ehrman was named the Republican Election Official of the year in 2017.

Kerschner said he joined the board of elections members and directors at the conference in Columbus earlier this week to speak on a panel to share best practices for cultivating positive relationships between election boards and commissioners.

“We were one of three counties selected out of the 88 to talk about cooperation between the commissioners and the board of elections,” he said. “It’s always good to know we are doing things in a manner that other people look at and say, ‘that’s the way things should be done.’”

Kerschner was joined by Board of Elections Chair Jim Fruth on the panel.

In other action, the commissioners agreed to provide a $2,000 supplement to employees for premium pay under the American Rescue Plan Act. The bonus will be given to the 362 employees who are under the budgeting authority of the commissioners’ office.

The supplement is to be received during the next pay period in two weeks and will go to employees who are part-time, full-time or intermittent.

Also during the session, the commissioners heard from Seneca County Sheriff Fred Stevens about what amounts to about $1.6 million in requests over a one-year period. The requests include adding personnel to the jail staff and the road enforcement staff as well as funding capital improvements, training and uniforms.

The commissioners each indicated they had a desire to provide funding for the jail personnel and one-time costs, such as capital improvements, but discussions regarding the other issues are expected to continue next week. Some of the capital improvements could be funded via grant opportunities that are currently being researched.

Stevens said that improvements at the jail could lead to large revenue increases via housing more detainees through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program. The jail generated about $900,000 in 2020, although early trends for this year fall well below that mark. As of June 10, about $257,000 in revenue had been generated by the jail.

In the 2021 budget, the sheriff’s office ($2,079,571.56) and the county jail ($3,681,623.31) made up about 32 percent of the county’s budget. According to estimates for 2022, if all requests were granted, the two departments could comprise more than 40 percent of General Fund expenses.

The approximately $1.6 million in requests equates to a 28 percent increase.

The budget for the Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office is $5,606,021.00, which includes the jail, road and administration costs.

Kerschner said the commissioners must consider that any expense increases to the sheriff’s office or jail departments, would likely lead to necessary cost cuts in other General Fund departments. This is especially true if the Budget Commission does not increase revenue estimates.

In other business, the commissioners announced the cancellation of the June 24 and July 1 board meetings. The July 8 meeting is slated to be an in-person session that will include the option for online viewership through Facebook Live.

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