Meeting Release

Post-meeting release 8/13

Commissioners review, accept countywide comprehensive plan Thursday morning
Also agree to continue exploration of project for potential energy cost savings

[Tiffin, OH August 13, 2020] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners reviewed and accepted the findings of a multi-jurisdictional, countywide comprehensive plan Thursday morning.
The plan, which was completed in June by CT Consultants, began development in March 2018. The plan includes the county, the city of Tiffin, Fostoria Economic Development Corp. and the Seneca County Park District.
The roughly $120,000 plan includes strategies for housing, commercial and industrial development, education, transportation, parks and recreation, and arts and culture.
Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership President and CEO David Zak commended the commissioners and all other stakeholders for working hard on the plan. He also thanked Seneca Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Charlene Watkins and her team for overseeing the process that led to the creation of the plan. More than 1,000 county residents participated and contributed to the plan.
“This plan will be an incredible roadmap for Seneca County,” Zak said.
The commissioners anticipate that the plan will be a guiding document for the next 15-20 years.
The plan, which features more than 150 strategies, has individual sections for each of the entities that were involved with the project. The county’s vision statement in the plan is, “to be an inclusive community that celebrates and brings to life both its rural and urban cultural heritage: fostering active lifestyles by improving access to existing natural resources for all county residents; and supporting a robust and innovative local economy that both integrates with and helps lead the regional economy.”
In other business, the board agreed to move forward in its exploration of an energy program that could potentially save the county money on utility costs.
In June, a representative from Palmer Energy introduced the program to the commissioners.
Palmer Energy partners with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio to help manage a natural gas and electric program for member counties. Seneca County has opted into this program, which is designed to help save money on natural gas and electric bills by using the strength of group buying.
Palmer is working with CCAO to install a solar array in the state to offer a hedge for counties and cities using the company for energy aggregation.
Under the program, about 20-25 percent of energy would be provided through a solar power purchasing agreement by governmental entities. Palmer representatives believe the arrangement could save money over time and could also offer a degree of diversification to the energy portfolio of those involved.
The commissioners agreed to sign a letter of intent, but they do not need to commit to the program until they have a better idea of what the final cost would be.
Also during the meeting, the commissioners received an update from County Administrator Stacy Wilson about the Coronavirus Relief Fund Committee. The committee met Monday to begin discussions on applications received from departments for funding. The county received about $923,000 in federal money to be used for previously unbudgeted expenditures brought about by the health crisis.
Applications from departments are due Aug. 31, and the committee is to continue meeting to decide if applications are allowable by state and federal law. Once approved by the committee, the commissioners will have the final authority on if funding will be awarded to projects.
About $90,000 of requests had been received by the committee as of Thursday. Wilson said departments also have recorded about $270,000 in COVID-related expenses since March. There also is an unknown amount of money in payroll that is eligible to be reimbursed through the fund. A report from last month showed about $400,000 committed to payroll that could be reimbursed.

In new business, the commissioners approved:
* A $5,104 supplemental appropriation to the Seneca County Sewer District Fund for capital improvements.
* Appointing attorney Rhonda L. Best as special prosecutor on behalf of the Seneca County Prosecutor’s Office.
* An agreement with Stantec Consulting Services for general services effective Jan. 1 of this year on behalf of the Seneca County Airport.