Regional planning board deals with billing

Seneca Regional Planning Commission’s board voted to change the way it bills property split fees to townships at its meeting Wednesday, and approved a 2019 budget of $258,793.

The billing change is the result of a dispute with Adams and Pleasant township trustees regarding a $481 bill to Adams Township and a $350 bill to Pleasant Township. Representatives of both groups of trustees attended the meeting at the request of the planning board in an attempt to work out their differences.

After discussion regarding whether a $175 per hour fee is too high, no agreement was reached and the trustees left the meeting.

Conversation on the topic continued among members.

Seneca County Commissioner Mike Kerschner, a board member, said the matter sets a precedent for billing townships that are not members of the planning commission. Trustees from Adams and Pleasant townships did not renew their memberships this year.

As a result, the board had to decide how much to charge for services members receive as part of their annual membership fee of 75 cents per township resident. The $175 per hour fee was decided earlier this year.

The result of the discussion was a motion approved by the board to bill property buyers or sellers requesting the property split rather than township trustees.

The board also agreed to recalculate the fee based on the average cost of providing the service, plus an administration fee, and send a letter to surveyors explaining the billing changes for non-member townships.

Also as a result of the discussion, the board voted to send a letter to township trustees asking them to pay whatever portion of each bill they think is honorable.

The board approved Executive Director Charlene Watkins’ recommendation that the planning commission administration start working with Seneca County General Health District to process applications for its septic system and sewer tap-in program.

She said the health department has been working with another agency outside of Seneca County, and the planning commission could charge $500 per application instead of $1,000. She said 10-20 applications are received a year.

“It’s a benefit to our citizens of Seneca County,” she said.

Approval was given pending verification that the insurance company would cover liability for the new service.

Also Wednesday, Watkins said the Seneca County Comprehensive Plan timeline is on target and public meetings are planned for January.

She said she will be getting formal approval on the active transportation plan in January from the entities involved.

The date and location of the board’s February meeting, which includes the annual meeting, is to be announced.