The cost of children in foster care is continuing to impact the county, and may even more following recent changes to sales taxes on MCOs.
The Times- Gazette reported last week that the Highland County Commissioners received a letter from Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, which stated that the county will no longer be able to impose sales takes on managed care organizations (MCOs).
According to a letter sent by commissioners to the county’s department heads, there will be an estimated $807,000 reduction in sales tax collection by the county. Department heads have been asked to revise budget requests for next year and then to resubmit those in early October.
During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners discussed the impact on foster care. Commissioner Shane Wilkin said that a conference call earlier this week addressed those costs, which are “mainly due — 80-percent plus — to opiate abuse.”
Wilkin said that he also participated in a different conference call, this one with Speaker of the Ohio House Cliff Rosenberger and State Senator Bob Peterson, concerning a planned additional levy for children services.
Without a way to pay for the foster care costs, Wilkin said, “things will get pretty ugly pretty quick.” He added that the conversation with Roseberger and Peterson was a “good call.”
“They are aware and have been aware” of the costs of foster care, Wilkin said. He added that such costs are “affecting Appalachian counties far worse and working (their) way up.”
Also on Wednesday, Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins was present to discuss a possible eminent domain land acquisition. She said the property in question concerns an expansion of Prospect Road and SR 73.
Agreements have been made with all land owners involved in the expansion except for one. Collins described the property in question as a “very, very small piece of land.”
Wilkin said the area to be expanded is a “tough spot” for drivers, but added, “Eminent domain is a big deal, whether you’re talking about a tenth of an acre or ten acres.”
Horst said that an expansion would “definitely (be) for the safety of the motoring public.”
Commissioner Jeff Duncan said that he had been contacted by the property owner, who “felt like he wasn’t being treated fairly.”
Any resolutions concerning eminent domain were set for next week to allow for the property owner to attend the meeting, as well as the county engineer.
A bid opening for a Community Development Block Grant sidewalk improvement project in Leesburg was also held on Wednesday. Commissioners received a bid from Dance Excavation for $25,290.75 and from Filmore Construction for $24,753. These bids will be reviewed, commissioners said.
In other business, commissioners said that they received a surge protection quote from Gustin Controls for both the administration building and the court house. This quote follows issues experienced at both places after recent storms.
Commissioners also said that they received a timeline for upcoming improvements to the court house, which are set to begin next month. Some of these repairs are “way overdue,” Wilkin said. He added that the funds for that work come from state dollars specifically for capital improvements.
Duncan said that there is “just a little bit of touch-up left to do with the landscaping at the Hi-Tech Center.” Commissioners also said that new flooring in the conference room at the center is also in progress.
Finally, commissioners discussed a resolution to be added to next week’s meeting concerning an “influx of people (petitioning) to have alleys closed.” The commissioners said the budget for advertising the closure of these alleys has been depleted. If next week’s resolution is passed, the petitioners will begin paying for the advertising.