Board learns about county debt

BASCOM – Katie Kleinfelder from RBC Capital Markets and John Larson from Squire Sanders gave a presentation about the county’s debt at the Seneca County commissioners quarterly meeting in the county Tuesday.

The county’s bond rating is based on several factors, including economic strength, financial strength, management and governments and debt. Kleinfelder said the subfactors are up for reconsideration, including making debt a more considerable factor.

Seneca County is rated by Moody Investor Services as A1 with a stable outlook. Kleinfelder said that is the fifth highest rating an entity can receive.

She also said if the county took on no more debt, it would be debt-free by 2023 and that Seneca County’s debt burden was low.

Commissioner Fred Zoeller also discussed the SR 53 Coalition and the $100,000 Ohio Department of Transportation study. ODOT is to contribute $50,000 toward the study, and Zoeller has suggested Seneca County pay $25,000, Sandusky and Ottawa counties pay $10,000, and Wyandot County pay $5,000. Zoeller has received $8,000 in donations to contribute to Seneca County’s cost of the study.

The board agreed to pay the remaining $12,500 for the study.

“It’s a must in order to keep these things moving forward,” Commissioner Holly Stacy said. “(We’re) grateful for the outreach … so that it’s only $12,500 from the county for our part.”

In addition, Zoeller said he spoke with legal counsel involved in creating specifications for a transportation improvement district. He said that after discussion, each county would have to create its own TID.

Creating a TID would allow the county other funding options.

He said the counsel would meet with each county to discuss creating a TID and whether it would benefit the county.

Board President Jeff Wagner said he was concerned about the personnel makeup of the TID and that unelected officials would be given the power to create taxes like toll roads.

“I’m going to have to be convinced,” said Wagner. “I’m certainly willing to listen.”

In other business, Zoeller discussed the additional plaques at the Seneca County Cemetery. Each marker costs $200 and the responsibility for covering that cost depends on where the person died.

At this time, Tiffin is responsible for three markers; the county, for two; and Pleasant Township, for one.

Zoeller said Tiffin has committed $600 to replace the plaques.

Stacy said Pleasant Township is looking to the residency of the individual and whether they want to spend the funds to fix the plaque.

Zoeller said he wanted to keep the cemetery uniform, but Stacy and Wagner considered whether the county’s $400 contribution was the “wisest use of taxpayer dollars,” according to Wagner.

The board decided against replacing the county’s plaques.

He also suggested a rededication ceremony for the cemetery to honor the work that has been done through Boy Scout Troop 444, Tim Welly and other volunteers.

The rededication is to be at 2 p.m. Nov. 3.

“What these Boy Scouts have done is unbelievable,” Zoeller said.

Seneca County EMS director Ken Majors said he has worked with townships and villages to establish recognition of EMS volunteers across the county.

Over the coming months, he said he is to attend meetings to provide letters of appreciation to about 120 volunteers who work with the county EMS.

“The whole goal is to make sure that they know we appreciate them, because we couldn’t do what we do without (them),” Majors said.

He also said the new ECHO unit is to be in service by the end of the week.

Majors said that by the end of the year, county EMS is to provide a new ambulance for Green Springs.

He also said EMS training is going well, with 12-16 volunteers being trained. He said the county always needs volunteers and that training is free and lasts four months. All volunteers are required to fulfill a two-year commitment. For more information, visit

Zoeller also gave an update on the County Services Building. After discussion with maintenance workers who had placed the original murals, Zoeller said there is an additional hole chiseled from the wall and could be the cause of the leakage. He also said that due to the piling of snow next to the wall in the winter, the salt and water could be destroying the brick on the lower three feet of the building’s outer wall.

Wagner suggested completing the minor fixes needed on the wall and waiting until next year to see if the problem gets worse.

Zoeller said a local contractor could fix the blistering on the wall, fix the bottom of the wall and remove the murals for about $7,500.

He also said he wanted a definition of what the local contractor can do before agreeing to the contract.

Stacy said that after attending the Portage River Cleanup Petition meeting, the county has about 200 acres of the Portage River within its boundaries and will have to be involved in the petition.

In new business, the board approved:

An appropriation adjustment of $250 for Child Support Enforcement Fund.

A fund transfer of $66,083 to be made to the Public Assistance Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $14,243.64 for General Fund of 2013.

A fund transfer of $14,243.64 to be made to the Youth Center Construction Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $90,000 to CR 385 Bridge Replacement Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $69,000 to Truss Bridge Rehabilitation.

A supplemental appropriation of $7,000 for the VOCA Grant Fund.

A fund transfer of $7,000 to be made to VOCA Expansion Grant Project Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $145,000 to the Child Support Enforcement Agency Budget.

A supplemental appropriation of $50,000 for the Public Assistance Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $39,400 for the VOCA Expansion Project Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $10,646 for the VOCA Expansion Project Fund.

Bill vouchers.