Commissioners applaud state officials for budgetary decisions
Also hear update from Sunny Farms Landfill representative
[Tiffin, OH June 13, 2019] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners heard an update on state budgetary decisions that could save the county about $232,000 over the next two years.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate agreed to increase the state’s financial commitments for indigent defense reimbursement, while also adding a provision to slightly increase the Local Government Fund.
The commissioners were pleased with the decision, as it signals a desire from the state to strengthen its relationship with counties.
Indigent defense is a court-appointed attorney provided to a defendant who cannot afford to pay for one. According to the Constitution and a Supreme Court ruling, indigent defense costs should be paid by the state, but many years ago it was set by the legislature as a 50-50 split. In recent years, the state’s reimbursement rate for indigent defense has been closer to 40 percent.
In 2018, between the Seneca County Juvenile and Probate Court and the two county common pleas courts, about $212,000 was spent on indigent defense. So, the county was reimbursed for about half of that. With the new funding, this cost should be completely covered by the state in 2020 and 2021.
The commissioners thanked the County Commissioners Association of Ohio for its help in advocating for these changes to the state budget.
The current proposal, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, includes $60 million for indigent defense in 2020, $95 million for it in 2021 and it also includes an increase in the percentage of state general revenue fund receipts that are committed to the Local Government Fund (from 1.66 percent to 1.68 percent).
The LGF increase will provide an additional $5 million to support counties, townships and municipalities as they continue providing vital services to Ohioans.
In 2008, Seneca County received about $1.4 million from the LGF, but in 2018, that figure had fallen to about $700,000. The board sees the increases as a step in the right direction and a sign that the state is attempting to fortify its standing with counties.
Also during the meeting, Ben Nutter, of Sunny Farms Landfill, distributed a report to the commissioners. The report includes water and sediment samples from April and May. He said the water samples met drinking water standards and the soil samples met residential-use criteria.
The report can be seen in its entirety here.
Nutter said it has been seven weeks since the landfill has emitted foul odors.
“Everything is on the right track,” he said. “We will continue to do business this way perpetually.”
In other business, resident Tom Breidenbach said the new paving at Cemetery Lane is a great improvement.
“It’s beautiful, it looks really nice,” he said.
During resolutions, the board approved all the appropriations from yesterday’s pre-meeting release. The board also set July 11, at 11 a.m. at the commissioners’ office to receive bids for the Taxiway Rehabilitation Project at the Seneca County Airport.