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Commissioners talk holiday lighting at fairgrounds, consider budgetary matters

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Seneca County Commissioner's Office

Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners learned Thursday morning about a drive-through holiday lighting display to be hosted at the Seneca County Fairgrounds.

Emily Gilliland, Seneca County Junior Fair Coordinator, visited the commissioners’ meeting to thank them for allowing organizers to use the fairgrounds and to inform the public of the display. The lights will be open to the public from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday-Sunday over the next four weekends (starting tomorrow). She also said the lights will be open on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.

Gilliland said those wishing to view the display can drive to the Seneca County Fairgrounds and enter through Gate 2. For a $5 donation, viewers will experience a 20-minute lighting experience with more than 60 different displays.

Proceeds will benefit the Junior Fair Board of Seneca County and will also help to pay for the construction of a small animal pavilion to be built next year for use at the Seneca County Fair in 2024. Gilliland thanked all organizations and individuals who have volunteered to help make the Seneca County Family Fair Lights project a success.

In other business, County Administrator Jaime Wolfe continued discussions with the commissioners concerning requests from the Seneca County General Health District and from Seneca Parks to decrease or eliminate lease costs for their respective offices located inside county-owned buildings.

Health District officials had reached out to the commissioners asking for a reduced lease payment due to ongoing construction/renovations and the reduced availability of some space within the building caused by those upgrades. The health department is located in the County Services Building in downtown Tiffin.

The county regularly conducts space allocation cost evaluations, and it costs the county more than $100,000 annually to house the health department in the CSB. The department’s lease payment was $40,000 last year. The lease needs to be renewed and renegotiated beginning in 2023.

Previously the health department’s lease payment was increased by five percent annually until a recent cost freeze was issued by the commissioners as part of the current lease that expires at the end of 2022. As for Seneca Parks, officials from the district requested the commissioners waive the $10,000 lease fee for 2023 so that money could be invested in a new facility that would not be owned by the county.

In return for this waiver, district officials offered a donor support recognition plaque for the commissioners in the new facility once it is built.

No decisions were made Thursday, but the commissioners indicated trepidation in reducing or eliminating lease costs due to the precedent it would set for other departments, among other reasons. All lease revenue the county collects is placed into the Capital Improvements Fund, by resolution. In other action, Wolfe said final budget request amounts and more discussion on the 2023 General Fund budget are expected to be on the agenda for Tuesday’s 10 a.m. session.

One of the topics for consideration is an increase in spending to hire a second agriculture educator at the Ohio State University Extension Office.

Mary Beth Albright, of the Extension Office, encouraged the commissioners to move forward and fund a cost-share for the second educator, a position they had as recently as two years ago.

“We have a small but mighty staff that does a lot of good for the community,” she said.

The county’s share of the cost to add the second position would bring the county’s allocation for the OSU Extension Office up by about $22,400 from last year’s expenditure of $122,476.

In new business, the commissioners:

  • A $1,078,588.61 supplemental appropriation to the County Township Road Reconstruction Grant program for contracts/projects.
  • A $9,000 supplemental appropriation to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Fund in the Transfers Out Line.
  • A $50,000 supplemental appropriation to the Justice Center Operating Fund for contract services.
  • A resolution authorizing Oriana House to enter into a contract with Comfort Systems USA.
  • Appointing Joe Moore to the Seneca County Board of Developmental Disabilities for a three-year term commencing Jan. 1.
  • Reappointing Ginni Beaston as a County Prevention Specialist to the Northwest Ohio Regional Prevention Council.
  • Reappointing Jennifer Schumacher as a County Prevention Specialist to the Northwest Ohio Regional Prevention Council.

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