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Commissioners approve some requests from Sheriff Stevens, seek more data on others

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File Photo: Seneca County Sheriff Fred Stevens speaks to Sheriff's Office personnel during a training session at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center. (Photo submitted)

Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners approved some financial requests from Seneca County Sheriff Fred Stevens Thursday morning, while also deferring a decision on several others until more information is gathered.

The board approved $21,000 of the $97,000 that Stevens requested.

The requests come on the heels of a June decision by the board to increase the sheriff’s office budget by more than $210,000. Those increases included the hiring of five corrections officers and a Registered Nurse for the Seneca County Jail.

Sheriff’s Office officials believe the upgrade in staffing could lead to revenue increases at the jail via the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Program and through housing inmates from other counties.

Jail revenue over the past several years has seen a steady decrease. The jail has generated $335,886.43 in revenue this year through July 31. The jail generated about $900,000 in 2020, $1.1 million in 2019 and $1.6 million in 2018.

Stevens said Thursday there has been a recent uptick in this trend, however, with July’s revenue hitting nearly $80,000.

Traditionally, jail revenue is one of the six highest General Fund revenue sources. The Seneca County Budget Commission certified a projection of $750,000 in revenue for the jail for 2021, making it the fourth-highest projected revenue source.

In April, the board also approved $135,000 in increases for the sheriff’s office to purchase and equip four new vehicles.

On Thursday, the board granted $21,000 of the requests for uniforms, training and travel.

Board President Mike Kerschner said he wants to be cautious with further budget increases because there is “fiscal fatigue” from requests from departments across the county. He said he was taking a higher-level view of the issue, pointing out that without major revenue increases to the General Fund, these increases in the sheriff’s budget would have to coincide with significant decreases in other areas of the budget. At this time, the Seneca County Budget Commission has not certified a revenue figure for 2022, of which the commissioners typically budget against.

The most recent budget figure for the sheriff’s office is about $6.5 million. This figure is a nearly $600,000 increase from the initial budgeted amount and is about $1.2 million more than what was spent in 2020. The 2021 budget figure is about $600,000 more than what was spent in 2019.

In other action, the commissioners reminded citizens of Thursday’s Seneca County EMS meeting with stakeholders from across the county.

That meeting is to begin at 7 p.m. at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, 928 W. Market St. Those not attending in person may watch on the Seneca County Commissioners Facebook page, or with the following Zoom info.

  • https://us02web.zoom.us/j/92595230790?pwd=c0d1cVJ0MVY4RXUwSERweXo4SnE2QT09
  • Dial: (312) 626-6799
  • Meeting ID: 925 9523 0790
  • Passcode: 453802

In other business, the board agreed to sign a statewide opioid settlement proposal which could lead to local funding. Funds would be restricted so they can only be used to help in the battle against opioids.

During Thursday morning’s regular session, the board approved:

  • A $10,000 supplemental appropriation to the Ambulance Services Fund for contract repairs.
  • A $650 supplemental appropriation to the Special Projects Fund for software licenses/services.
  • A $650 supplemental appropriation to the Juvenile Court Special Projects Fund for software license/services.
  • A $7,500 supplemental appropriation to the General Special Projects Fund for contract services.
  • An $800 and $400 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund for grants for the Attica and Seneca County fairs.
  • A $20,000 supplemental appropriation to the Concealed Handgun License Fund on behalf of the sheriff’s office.

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