Zoeller proposes citizens’ panel

ATTICA – In the hopes of getting more input from the community, one Seneca County commissioner announced his plans to create a volunteer-based board to make recommendations to government officials.

Seneca County Commissioner Fred Zoeller suggested the formation of a “blue-ribbon committee” of community members to the board Tuesday evening at a commissioner meeting at Attica Village Hall.

Zoeller likened it to a think tank, saying he hopes to generate constructive criticism and ideas to improve the county. He said the board would consist of citizens, including business leaders and educators, rather than government officials.

“The reason I ran for politics was not to make the status quo, but to make some real efforts in bringing the county forward, but what has been brought to date has not been received real positively by the community, so I’m thinking of establishing this (committee) for non-politicians to come up with positive suggestions to move the county forward that I could bring back to my fellow commissioners and elected officials,” he said.

Zoeller said the idea for the committee follows suggestions he has brought to the board from government agencies concerning tax initiatives.

“All these initiatives have come through various committees that have been convened for a number of years and are making suggestions, and I can see they’re not going to go through,” he said.

Zoeller said he is not interested in the board working on previous tax proposals brought to commissioners. Commissioners Jeff Wagner and Holly Stacy questioned how the committee would differ from existing committees of private individuals or community service groups.

Zoeller said he does not anticipate using any tax money for the committee and did not have a timeframe on when meetings would start, adding he hopes community members would contact him if they are interested in participating.

In another matter, commissioners unanimously accepted a resolution for the issuance of a $910,000 note in anticipation of the issuance and sale of bonds to pay for energy efficient upgrades and improvements to county buildings. Wagner said estimates show the upgrades are to pay for themselves in seven years.

The bonds are being borrowed from the Seneca County Treasurer’s Office at a 0.5 percent interest rate, which is to be returned to the General Fund, Zoeller said.

The project, through Palmer Energy, originated with the previous board of commissioners.

In old business, County Administrator Stacy Wilson said the sheriff’s office had received a $9,000 grant for Tasers, with a $900 match from the sheriff’s office. Wilson said the money could pay for nine Tasers.

In the discussion, Wilson said Sheriff Bill Eckelberry asked about receiving $5,000-5,500 from commissioners to increase the purchase to 15 Tasers, enough for each cruiser to be equipped.

It was discussed that keeping Tasers at the office to be checked out by deputies would not be efficient as cruisers are kept at deputies’ homes to reduce overtime costs and for faster response times to calls.

Zoeller said he would like Eckelberry to see if the grant may be available again in the future for the possibility of combining the grants for purchases over two years or look into other grant funding sources.

Wagner said historically the county has provided the sheriff’s office supplemental appropriations as revenue from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement program is brought into the county, and said he would be willing to make such an appropriation for the equipment.

The board is to discuss the matter at a meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday.

In new business, the board:

Approved bill vouchers.

Approved an appropriation adjustment of $500 within the Community Development Block Grant Program Fund.

Approved an appropriation adjustment of $1,889.89 within the General Fund.

Approved an appropriation adjustment of $375 within the Community Corrections Fund for 2013.

Approved a supplemental appropriation of $14,068.56 within the Community Corrections Fund for 2013.

Approved a resolution amending the board’s orders of June 18, Journal 89 Page 263 – supplemental appropriation to the 2012 County Road Resurfacing Fund for 2013.

Approved a resolution authorizing commissioners to enter into a contract with Whitta Construction Inc. for the 2013 CHIP Seal Program.