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Seneca County Commissioners apply for $1.5 million in Land Bank funds

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Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners heard from Fostoria Economic Development Corp. President Renee Smith Thursday morning about two potential funding pools that are available to the Seneca County Land Bank.

Smith, who administers the Land Bank for the county, said $1 million is available via a Brownfield Remediation Program Grant while $500,000 is available through the Site Revitalization and Demolition Grant. The state has allocated various amounts for different counties through both programs.

The funds are available to counties across the state, while state government officials have encouraged Land Banks to facilitate the process. The commissioners approved two resolutions Thursday giving the Land Bank the lead on the process to apply for and administer the money.

County officials expect to receive the $1.5 million in funding that was allocated for Seneca County. Smith said there are several properties in the county that she is already aware of that would qualify under each program.

The Land Bank’s goal is to clear dilapidated properties across the county. The Seneca County Land Bank was created in November 2015 after the county received more than $4 million in grant funding through the Neighborhood Initiative Program.

Since 2015, the program has helped to eliminate blighted properties to increase overall property values and get tax delinquent properties back on the tax rolls.

Smith said Thursday morning that the Land Bank has demolished about 100 blighted properties. She said some property owners reported housing value increases of as much as $50,000 through the removal of area properties.

In other business, Seneca County Dog Warden Kelly Marker provided her 2021 annual report to the commissioners. She said 9,812 dog licenses were issued last year. She also said 38 dogs were adopted out of her office, with 98 dogs returned to their owner. Marker said her office handled 469 complaints.

In 2022, Marker said she has saved enough funding through the Dog and Kennel Fund through the years (which is a non-General Fund line that includes money raised through dog license fees) to build a Sally Port structure.

Marker said she also plans to continue to work on increasing the number of dog licenses issued. Commissioner Anthony Paradiso said there are a “million reasons” to get your dog licensed, including a better chance of reuniting with them if they get lost.

In other action, Seneca County Museum Director Theresa Sullivan provided updates from the museum in her annual report.

She said volunteers provided at least 2,837.5 hours of work to the museum in 2021. She also said several grants were obtained to continue the improvement of the museum. This included a $9,120 Teach Grant that was matched with about $29,000 from the Barnes-Deinzer Museum Foundation. Sullivan thanked the commissioners and their staff for their collaboration and support of the museum.

The 2022 museum speaker series is to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday as Dr. Doug Collar discusses connections between the city of Tiffin and the larger literary landscape.

Sullivan said the museum hosted six successful speaker presentations last year and that she plans to continue the series this year.

In new business, the board approved:

  • An $86,000 supplemental appropriation to the Opportunity Park Improvements Fund for capital improvements.
  • A $4,000 supplemental appropriation to the Maintenance and Repair Fund for hospitalization.
  • A $10,000 supplemental appropriation to the Foster Children Donations Fund for other expenses.
  • A $100,000 supplemental appropriation to the Mental Health and Recovery Services Grant for contract services.
  • A $250,000 supplemental appropriation to the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Grant for contract services.
  • A $2,000 supplemental appropriation to the Dog and Kennel Fund for supplies.
  • Accepting a bid from Griffin Pavement Striping for the 2022 Pavement Marking Project. The Fremont company’s bid for the project was $92,452.05.
  • Amending purchase orders due to scrivener’s error.

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