Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Commissioner's Corner - May 2012

The month of May has started out very well for Darke County. The crops are planted, and now getting enough moisture will be the key. Mother’s day saw a lot of flower buying and planting in the County, and as always the sunshine makes everyone feel better about getting out and about. The Commissioner’s office is in full swing this month, as this is the start of the Parade season. On May 19th, the elected officials were at the Arcanum Old Fashioned days, a parade and event that everyone enjoys. Since this is the start of the summer season, the commissioners encourage everyone in the County to enjoy all the local festivals. It is a great chance to see your neighbors and visit all of our communities, and the food, fun, and fellowship are always good!

This month starts the budget process for 2013. From the 21st to the 25th, we will review the County budget with the elected officials. This year we are not reviewing the outside funds budgets until November. As always, our elected officials are holding the spending line in check. We feel that the elected officials we have are doing an outstanding job. They have held their spending in check for a number of years now, and their dedication to the conservative spending of the public’s money has allowed Darke County to come through this terrible economy. Thank you to all for a job well done!

There are some important new developments with several projects that the Commissioner’s have been watching. On the 911 cell phone tax, House Bill 509, the “Next Generation- Moving Ohio Forward” Bill has been introduced and is moving through the Legislature. As of now, this Bill seems to be everything that we need to continue the funding for 911. The details have not been worked out completely, but from what we have learned, there will be no need for the Commissioners to ask the citizens for a 0.25 percent sales tax hike to upgrade and maintain 911 services for the next 4 years. We are certainly relieved to know that the legislature has addressed this important issue, and we are happier still that the sales tax increase will NOT be passed onto our citizens. Thank you to our Representatives who listened to us and responded. The State Rte. 242/Airport project seems to be raising some questions for some people. To refresh everyone’s memory, last year ODOT approached the Commissioners regarding abandonment of State Rte. 242 and turning it over to the County, Richland and Wayne Townships by May of 2013. ODOT will be giving a lump sum payment of $800,000.00 to the County Engineer to bring 242 up to new standards and conditions. The county and townships in turn, after the repairs will assume the roads as determined. ODOT will purchase the needed right of ways along 242 before the project starts. By closing the north/south section of 242, we can then use 300 feet of displaced threshold that is already in place. We are working diligently to put in place funding to address Chase Road. The earliest and best case scenario would be to begin in 2014. Several funding sources are available to us (FAA, OPWC) and we are looking into those. We will continue to keep people informed on this project. If you have any questions, please call and ask us.

Economically, the State of Ohio and Darke County continue to lead in jobs and job retention. The Springfield News-Sun recently had a story that start up investment is at a 10 year high in Ohio. Venture capital is flowing into Ohio and is helping small business to grow. Darke County Economic Development Director Marc Saluk continues to do a tremendous job in keeping us moving forward. We have at least 20 projects in the works, and Marc is making sure Darke County continues to lead the Dayton region, and be a force in the State. On May 14th, a ceremonial ground breaking was held for the Darke County Workforce Center. This facility, the Greenville Tech Center, will house the new Workforce Center.

Through the collaborative efforts of many people, this facility will now be utilized by the entire County. This giant step forward will help fill the workforce needs of manufacturing businesses in Darke County for the future and beyond. The facility will train adults and students alike. The purpose is to make sure our companies have a steady, reliable, and knowledgeable supply of workers for the future. With the schools co-operation and input from local employers, this center will be instrumental in the growth of Darke County. Congratulations to all who made this possible. Darke County was showcased in an article in the Wall Street Journal in their May 22nd edition. Whirlpool was chosen to be the lead story on jobs coming back to America from China. Several local people were shown in a video taken at the Greenville plant. This article and video gives Greenville more exposure, and shows how Darke County is leading in economic development. The Partnering for Progress (P4P) initiative was instrumental in securing a substantial portion of the budget that landed Whirlpool on the cover. P4P leveraged $188,000.00 to fund an approximate $340,000.00 project. Congratulations to Bill Good and all the hard working people at Whirlpool. Darke County has also been chosen to be a pilot program for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO). The program is in conjunction with Palmer Energy. The program will monitor energy usage in our buildings more thoroughly than before, and will tell us where we can save the most dollars. This is a statewide program and we are delighted that Darke County was chosen for this project. The CCAO is funding the program, so no Darke County dollars are being spent. Thanks to John Cook for his diligence in getting us this program.

Darke County Solid Waste Director Krista Fourman announced that her office has received a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for $6,556 for recycling bins to be placed at the Fairgrounds. Krista has done an excellent job as Solid Waste Director, and has continually kept Darke County in the forefront with all of their projects. The Trash Bash program had almost 1200 participants this year and covered 604 miles of roadway. This was the largest contingent yet, and thanks go out to all who participated. Congratulations to Krista and Melissa for a great job.

On the State front, Ohio Government payroll shrank 4.6% in the last decade. The number of Government employees shrank by 36,600 employees, down from 801,500 to 764,900. Only 3 States lost a greater share of employees. Ohio was one of only 7 States that registered government payroll drops of more than 10,000 government positions. The information is from the Business Courier, May 7th, 2012. Ohio’s unemployment rate continues to decline. The unemployment rate stands at 7.4% down from 7.5% in March. In April, 7000 more workers were put back to work than in March. This is certainly good news for all of us. In other news, Governor Kasich has vowed to use any surplus in the budget for a tax cut for the people of Ohio, not for local Governments as before. There is some resistance to this from County Governments, and Townships, as they feel they have taken the brunt of the cuts. The Governor stated that “the Federal Government did away with revenue sharing in the 70’s, and this is revenue sharing.” “If you want to spend, do it locally,” he said.”Do you realize we had a near death experience?” “And when you have a near death experience you don’t go back to the old behavior.” The Governor has stated he will veto any legislation that restores local government funds, as he believes the people will use the money more wisely themselves. We will see how this plays out.

As always, we encourage everyone to come to a Commissioners meeting. All meetings are open to the public, and we have a session twice a week. Our meetings are Mondays and Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. in the Commissioner’s office located at 520 South Broadway in Greenville. Plan to attend and learn what is happening in Darke County! See you there!

The Darke County Commissioners

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