Commissioners, other offices to continue status quo during COVID-19 pandemic
[Tiffin, OH April 30, 2020] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners met digitally via Zoom Thursday morning.
One topic of discussion was how office operations may change as parts of the state begin to re-open.
Commissioner Shayne Thomas said many offices including the commissioners’ office, will continue to be closed on Fridays for budgetary reasons until finances recover.
According to Gov. Mike DeWine’s press conference earlier this week, office activity can restart on May 4. The commissioners tasked County Administrator Stacy Wilson with purchasing the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (hand sanitizer, masks, cleaning wipes) to be able to gradually open offices to the public. Many offices have closed their lobbies and are conducting business via phone calls and e-mail.
Commissioner Mike Kerschner said this is likely to continue and he urged people to communicate and call ahead to come up with a plan to conduct business with the county.
Thomas said he believes business is successfully being transacted digitally, and added that there have not been any problems as the county has had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elected officials and department heads across the county are taking the situation day-by-day and changes to operations are possible. The changes were made with safety and budgetary concerns in mind.
The board’s plan, which started being implemented two weeks ago, includes 20-percent decreases to salaries and wages in the General Fund to help meet the shortfall created by the pandemic.
The cut in salaries is combined with several other expense decreases. The board’s initial goal for the General Fund was to cut about $2 million from this year’s budget.
This plan was formulated following the Seneca County Budget Commission reducing its General Fund revenue projection for 2020 by $2 million earlier this month.
Nearly $2 million in cuts were formalized by the approval of a resolution during last week’s session.
On Thursday, the board approved a replacement resolution that made some tweaks to the resolution.
The new resolution can be viewed here, it includes about $1.9 million in reductions to the General Fund. Any changes from the previous resolution are highlighted.
In other business, the board agreed to honor a previous agreement with the Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services to advance funding for a couple of new vehicles. The department has been traveling frequently so they can continue to provide services to children and families across the county.
Also during the meeting, Seneca Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Charlene Watkins recognized Janie Weasner, who is the clerk and treasurer for the Village of Bloomville. Weasner is retiring today after 26 years of public service! The board also wished a happy 88th birthday to former county employee and frequent board meeting attendee Tom Breidenbach.
In other action, the board heard from its Human Resources consultant Aaron Weare, from Clemans-Nelson and Associates. Weare and Carol Kern, from Seneca County DJFS, discussed unemployment compensation. The commissioners are to consider creating a shared work program that could allow county workers who are unemployed or underemployed to receive more benefits. The program is to be explored by the commissioners and by other departments across the county.
In new business, the board approved:
* A $50,000 supplemental appropriation for unemployment expenses.
* A fund advance repayment to the county from the Wolf Creek Ditch Project Fund to the General Fund.
* Accepting the Contract with Transportation Equipment Services Corp. for Two (2) eight-passenger four-wheelchair vans on Behalf of the Seneca County Opportunity Center.
* Authorizing Commissioner Shayne Thomas to sign the 2021 Workers Compensation Group Retrospective Rating Plan between the county and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.