Seneca County Commissioners approve county budget, welcome longtime Seneca County resident
Story and photos by Sheri Trusty, Seneca County Media Relations Coordinator
TIFFIN — The Seneca County Commissioners ended the year approving a new AG building and a new budget at the Dec. 21commissioners’ meeting. After discussing the issue in executive session, the commissioners voted to approve the $950,000 purchase of the Advertiser-Tribune building at 320 Nelson St. in Tiffin. The building will house Seneca County Farm Services, Seneca County OSU Extension, Seneca County Soil & Water, and Seneca County Conservation District.
After a remodeling project that will be implemented according to USDA qualifications, the building will replace the old AG building, and the current building will be demolished. The commissioners originally researched the option of constructing a new building, but purchasing the Advertiser-Tribune building is a more fiscally responsible decision and will provide a larger building than a purchased building could provide.
Among the seven resolutions passed by the commissioners was a resolution approving the 2024 budget. The commissioners and Seneca County Administrator Barb Patterson spent countless hours building the budget from the ground up.
“When Barb became administrator back in May, we said we wanted to start from scratch with the budget,” Commissioner Anthony Paradiso said. “I want to thank all the electeds. Everyone got everything in early, and then we had discussions. As commissioners and as citizens, we can feel good that we are informed.”
The 2024 budget faced the obstacles of the absence of CARES Act funds, a 13% increase in health care costs for county employees, and decreased sales tax, which provides about 50% of the county budget.
“This year, our total sales tax collected was $200,000 less than we certified,” Paradiso said. “We can’t spend more than we take in.”
In the budget, the commissioners approved 2% in pay raises for county employees and absorbed 11% of their increased health care costs. Employees will only absorb 2% of the 13% increase. Employees received a 3.5% pay raise in the 2023 budget, equaling a 2.75% pay increase over the course of two years.
“This was a more conservative approach to the budget,” Commissioner Bill Frankart said. “We dove into the budget and made a decision based on current information. It was a fact-based decision.”
Commissioners Frankart and Paradiso praised Patterson for the work she put into creating a fiscally responsible budget that meets department needs across the county.
“I want to give kudos to Barb. She did phenomenal work on the budget,” Frankart said.
The commissioners passed a resolution to receive bids for the Seneca County EMS Station #2, the Southwest Station. The bids will be opened on Jan. 18 at 10 a.m. Contractors can obtain bid packets from RCM Architects in Findlay. For more information, visit www.rcmarchitects.com.
During the public comment session, Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership Development Coordinator, Adam Gillmor, and OSU Extension Area Leader, Mary Beth Albright, thanked the commissioners for supporting their organizations. Seneca County Board of Health Vice President, Dr. Zachary West, announced that is running for Seneca County Coroner.
Longtime Seneca County resident, David Heimrich, attended the commissioners’ meeting to share an important piece of county history: the original 1829 deed to his Seneca County Farm. The deed was signed by Andrew Jackson, who at the time was the Commissioner of the General Land Office.
The farm’s original 80 acres in Seneca Township was purchased by Heimrich’s great-great-grandfather, David Foght, and 40 acres were later added. Heimrich, 83, has lived on the land his entire life except during the four years he served overseas in the military.
“The deed was folded in a desk, and I framed it about 50 years ago,” Heimrich said.
The commissioners were grateful for the opportunity to view such a unique piece of Seneca County history.
The next Seneca County Commissioners meeting will be on Jan. 4, 2024.