Commissioners approved the preliminary engineer's report on the Wolf Creek ditch and granted the petition and instructed the county engineer to prepare a full report in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code at a special ditch hearing Monday morning.
Citizens spoke for and against the petition to clean the main channel of Wolf Creek. The project is to cost the county's General Fund about $225,000.
"I find that the project is necessary," Commissioner Jeff Wagner read from engineer Mark Zimmerman's preliminary report. "Benefits outweigh the cost of the proposed improvement and that it is in the public interest to grant the prayer of the petition."
PHOTO BY ZACH GASE
Commissioner Jeff Wagner speaks at the second Wolf Creek ditch hearing at the Public Safety Building at the fairgrounds Monday morning.
The petition was filed with commissioners last May, they held a viewing July 30 and had the first hearing Sept. 18.
"To simply dismiss the petition as some would like at this point, to me, is contrary to the law, if the three criteria (referenced by Zimmerman) are met," Wagner said.
Unlike Wagner, who said he had no preconceived notion to vote to go forward with the project or not, commissioner Dave Sauber said he initially was against the project because of the high cost.
By Zach Gase
Prior to a Wolf Creek ditch hearing, Seneca County commissioners met briefly Monday morning.
Commissioner Dave Sauber said the county is not allowed to pay for incoming commissioners to attend the County Commissioners Association of Ohio's training conference.
Administrator Stacy Wilson said Dean Henry, public information officer for Seneca County, did an excellent job last week dealing with the house fire that happened on TR 124.
Sauber also spoke about Deputy Bill Herrig, who died of cancer last weekend.
"It surprised everyone," Sauber said. "I know from years of being around him that he truly and sincerely cared about the people and kids. He gave a lot back for the betterment of all. He will be missed."
In new business, the board approved:
An appropriation adjustment of $500 within the General Fund.
A supplemental appropriation of $1,881.35 for Delinquent Real Estate Tax Fund.
An appropriation adjustment of $7,020.77 within the General Fund.
A supplemental appropriation of $7,680.64 to the General Fund for 2012.
A supplemental decrease of $18,079.18 to the Permanent Appropriations for the Soil & Water Fund for 2012.
A supplemental decrease to the Permanent Appropriation for the Rural Law Enforcement Assistance Fund.
Fund transfers of $75,000 to be made to Pavement Resurfacing Project.
Appropriation adjustment of $10,558.52 within the Maintenance & Repair Fund.
A supplemental appropriation of $34,944.47 for the Bascom/New Riegel Bond Service Fund.
A supplemental appropriation of $3,390.72 for the Bascom/ New Riegel Reserve Fund.
An appropriation adjustment of $500 within the Soil & Water Conservation District.
A supplemental appropriation of $60,491.98 for the Bascom/New Riegel Bond Service Fund.
A supplemental appropriation of $39,374 for the Ambulance Service Fund for 2012.
A resolution authorizing the contract service agreement with R. Renegade Co., to perform the work of renovations and improvements to the museum.
A resolution authorizing the commissioners to enter into an agreement with Nick's Lawn Mowing Service for snow removal for the county's small lots.
He said after talking with the mayor of Bettsville and seeing flooding conditions there, he saw the importance of the project.
Commissioner Ben Nutter said funding for the study is to come out of the General Fund and will not be recouped if the project does not go forward.
Wagner said payment for the creek project is to be weighted - the more a landowner benefits from it, the more that person will pay.
Kevin Williams, of Sycamore, said Zimmerman provided "no fact and no figure" of the benefits, and assumed that "blank exceeds $225,000."
"If the county engineer wants to put a quarter of a million dollars down on a hunch and play the bet, he's certainly free to do that with his money," Williams said. "But when you take other people's money and take other people's property and use of their property against their will, you better do better than 'blank.'"
Nutter said commissioners trust Zimmerman's opinion.
"(Zimmerman) is a duly elected, professionally trained engineer," Nutter said. "His opinion is considered 'expert' to me and the other commissioners, and that's what counts. To minimize his opinion because you don't like it, is not going to happen."
Another concern with the creek cleaning project is determining whose property is in the watershed and whose water does not drain into Wolf Creek.
Wagner said Zimmerman's final report will identify which properties are not draining into the creek, and these people will not pay for the project.
Wagner also suggested work should be done in stages, spread out for a few years, with the worst areas being cleaned first. He said in this way, the county would not have to front as much money.
If the project moves forward, by law the ditch is to be regularly maintained, Nutter said.
Zimmerman is to provide commissioners with the final report at the third and final hearing July 16. The date is subject to change, if the report is not completed.