Mental health levy possible

Seneca County commissioners agreed Tuesday morning to begin the process that could place a 0.7-mill levy on the Nov. 7 ballot for Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Sandusky, Seneca and Wyandot Counties.

Mircea Handru, mental health board executive director, said a levy was approved by voters in 2008 and 2012, but due to a Ohio Department of Taxation ruling, the levy won’t be considered a replacement or renewal. 

Although the ballot language will reflect the levy being a new tax, Handru said the impact on taxpayers will be similar to the previous levy. The 2008 levy was 0.8 mills.

Commissioner Mike Kerschner said he was happy to allow the levy to go on the ballot and said he was in support of it.

“The mental health board is at the epicenter of the opiate crisis,” he said. “We need to make sure (the board) is funded in the county. They are working hard. I, for one, am in absolute, full support of this.”

Commissioner Holly Stacy agreed.

“This is definitely a necessity,” she said.

In other news, the board discussed plans for Seneca County Airport.

Airport operator Brad Newman and county consultant and Stantec Project Manager Jeffrey Kramer told commissioners about a 2015 Federal Aviation Administration project, a 2016 ODOT project and a proposed project for 2018.

Kramer said the 2015 and 2016 projects were mostly complete, except for pavement sealing and marking of the ramp area.

A project planned for this year likely is to be deferred to 2018, due to the delay in acquisition of four parcels of land not owned by the county. If some, but not all, parcels are purchased by the county, some residents could be landlocked and would not be able to leave their property without trespassing. One remedy is to grant temporary easements.

Kramer said Federal Aviation Administration representatives are to visit the airport Aug. 17 to try clear up issues with the land acquisitions. He recommended no decisions be made until after that meeting.

He said goals for the 2018 project are to acquire the parcels, clear some trees, remove a road adjacent to property purchased from the Theis family and submit pre-applications for FAA funding in November.

Kerschner said he was on board with the project and would attend the meeting with FAA officials.

“We want to get this rolling in the right direction,” he said.

Seneca County Assistant Administrator Tanya Hemmer said another planning session is set for after the Aug. 17 meeting.

In other news, Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. President and CEO David Zak updated commissioners on initiatives SIEDC is undertaking.

He said about 50 projects are in progress or have been completed so far this year. He also said a “large” announcement is likely from SIEDC in the next week.

In new business, commissioners approved:

• A $2,300 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund. 

• A $122,989 supplemental appropriation to the Commissary Fund.

• Submitting an application for the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement and/or Local Transportation Improvement programs.

• Establishing the Medicaid Transitional Aid Fund.