The upcoming levy for Highland County Jobs and Family Services (HCJFS) was discussed at the morning meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners.
Jeremy Ratcliff, director of HCJFS, said the organization’s levy is set to expire at the end of the year and that there would be one on November’s ballot. However, he said that discussions are currently being had inside the organization about whether that levy on the ballot would be a renewal or a replacement.
He said the current version of the levy costs the average taxpayer around $23 per year per $100,000 valuation, with it bringing the organization about $690,000 per year. Ratcliff then said that for a $1 million levy replacement, the average taxpayer would pay $35 per year per $100,000, which would be an around $12 increase per year.
Ratcliff said that at next week’s meeting of the board of commissioners, he would have an official recommendation for either a renewal or a replacement and would require approval from the board to put it on the November ballot.
“We’re greatly appreciative of the voters and their trust in us to spend their dollars appropriately,” Ratcliff said.
He said that 100 percent of the levy dollars brought in go to child placement costs. He also said that placement costs for a single child can range from $27 per day to $600-$700 depending on the needs of the child. Ratcliff also said that for some of the children, the county is responsible for them until they’re 18 to 21 years old.
He also said that, concerning the overall placement costs per year, that has gone up from around $1.14 million per year in 2013 to $2.24 million in 2018 and then up to $4.4 million in 2022.
Highland County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile and Probate Divisions Judge Kevin Greer was also in attendance to stress the increase in the cases and children being in the county’s placement system.
While Greer said that Ohio judges cannot ethically publicly endorse or oppose any issues, they are allowed to give statistics they’ve seen. He said that over the last five to seven years, the caseload on children’s services cases has “drastically” increased, going from 20 to 30 cases when he started “a long time ago” to around 200 per year now.
“But the last seven years is where I’ve really seen the increase,” Greer said. “And so I can, I can say without hesitation, the drug issues, illegal use of drugs, is the primary driver of that … It sure appears to me that it’s, that’s going to continue for the near future, unfortunately, so I don’t see the caseload dropping much.”
In other news, Doug Karnes, partner at McCarty and Associates, relayed some updates on the records storage building. He said the company received all of the bids from the July 12 bid opening and has been “scrutinizing” the apparent low bid from Alpha Construction for $2.797 million.
He said the company is checking on the bidder’s references and would have a recommendation in around two weeks on whether to move forward with Alpha Construction or consider a different company. He also said that there have been no anomalies so far, but that they thought it was something the company should do considering the size of the project.
Janet Grothe, manager of community and government relations at Innergex, was also in attendance at the meeting to give updates on the county’s solar sites and other issues. Grothe announced the dispersal of $88,000 to the Highland County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) that the organization planned to use on building lighting towers and supplies for an OES trailer. She said this purchase will help the organization respond to nighttime emergencies throughout the county.
She also said that the company was “nearing completion” on the Highland County Road use and maintenance agreement (RUMA) and was also moving ahead with the design and construction planning for the Palomino site. She also said the company’s environmental team was working on the landscaping and visual screening plans.
The board of commissioners also discussed software upgrades that would be coming for the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office. Britton said this upgrade would bring the office into the 21st century. Dave Daniels, vice president of the board of commissioners, said the upgrades would include the ability to transfer documents electronically as well as do some of their work online. Terry Britton, president of the board of commissioners, said the initial price of the software would cost $74,000, with an annual support cost of $10,000, as well as the possibility of other additions being discussed.
Britton also said that an HVAC system crashed at the Highland County Justice Center, necessitating an AC and system replacement, due to the latter being in use for around 20 years.
The board of commissioners also approved multiple authorizations to execute, those being a membership appointment for Brad Roades to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, a Highland HSA Group Benefit Summary Report from Medical Mutual and a Highland PPO Group Benefit Summary Report from Medical Mutual, an MMOH Disclaimer and Notes, an MMOH Renewal Form. Other authorizations to execute include a 2023 Economic Development Department General Partnership Agreement, a Public Improvement Notice of Commencement for the OSU Extension Building and a Notice of Award for the OSU Extension Building to Tag Williams, Inc., Weller’s Plumbing and Heating, Inc. and CT Electric.
In other news, there were six resolutions approved by the board of commissioners, which are as follows:
*Res. No. 23-106 is an authorization for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds in the amount of $55,578 to fund 2183 – Other Expenses – 2023 Technology Grant.
*Res. No. 23-107 is an authorization for a transfer of funds from Children Services Special, 2115 to Public Assistance, 2050 in the amount of $10,569.40 for April 2023 – June 2023 Children Services shared cost distribution.
*Res. No. 23-108 is an authorization for a transfer of funds from Child Support Enforcement, 2015 to Public Assistance, 2050 in the amount of $21,187.26 or April 2023 – June 2023 Child Support Enforcement shared cost distribution.
*Res. No. 23-109 is a request for a budget modification within the 1000 County General fund, Advertising and Printing in the amount of $5,000.
*Res. No. 23-110 is a request for a budget modification within the 1000 County General fund, Economic Development Rent, in the amount of $1,200.
*Res. No. 23-111 is a request from the Board of Elections to rename fund 2305 to August 2023 Special Election. Also requested was the creation of 11 new line items with the appropriation of $52,144.
There were also six contracts approved by the board of commissioners, which are as follows:
*Contract 61 is between the board of commissioners and the City of Hillsboro for the distribution of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the Roberts Lane redevelopment in the amount of $750,000.
*Contract 62 is between the board of commissioners, Tag Williams, Inc. and WDC Group LLC for the OSU Extension Building Agreement.
*Contract 63 is between the board of commissioners and the Highland County Historical Society for the west room of the second floor of the Scott House.
*Contract 64 is between the board of commissioners and the Highland County Historical Society for the east room of the second floor of the Scott House.
*Contract 65 is between the board of commissioners, Weller’s Plumbing and Heating, Inc. and WDC Group for the OSU Extension Building Agreement.
*Contract 66 is between the board of commissioners, CT Electric and WDC Group LLC for the OSU Extension Building Agreement.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.