Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley presented commissioners Shane Wilkin, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton with the estimated general fund appropriations for 2018 at the board's meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

County commissioners and county department heads will be working with a general fund budget of $10.3 million for next year. This is a 5-percent increase from the 2017 general fund budget of $9,810,000. Last year's initial general fund requests came in at $10,661,756 before being scaled back to $9.8 million.

Commissioners are asking department heads to submit their respective budgets by Dec. 13, with modifications completed by Dec. 20 and the official vote on the budget on Dec. 27.



"We'll thank all the department heads in advance for their cooperation," Wilkin said. "And hope we're still thanking them afterward."

In other action, Wilkin said the county continues FOP negotiations with the sheriff's deputies' union representative. Talks are scheduled for Dec. 18.

"My guess is that the contract will not be completed by Jan. 1," Wilkin said.

The current contract expires Dec. 31.

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• Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner submitted a request for the board to allow the health department to own its space in the North High Business Center in Hillsboro. Wilkin sent the request will be sent to Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins for review.

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The board also received a letter from Collins in regard to a letter to the commissioners from Mowrystown Village Solicitor Fred Beery.

After advising commissioners that the village of Mowrystown had to take emergency action to "stave off insolvency at its last council meeting," Beery wrote that "Mayor (Frank) Terwilliger has requested that I ask you to consider joining the village in establishing a sewer district in the Mowrystown area under R.C. 6109.02."

Collins advised commissioners (in part): "Upon establishing the district as a county district, the commissioners shall set the user fees pursuant to ORC 6117.02, just as is being exercised at Rocky Fork Lake. The commissioners would be responsible for the debts associated with the sewer district; however, you would also receive any money currently held by or received in the future by the village for use of the district.

"As to Mr. Beery’s letter, I am confident the code section referenced is ORC 6117 rather than 6109, as that deals with safe drinking water requirements. I see no requirement that the Court of Common Pleas become involved in the decision for the county Board of Commissioners to establish a sewer district. I also do not see any involvement in this process by the Board of Township Trustees. I will continue to research this issue."

(The full text of Collins' letter is copied below.)

Mowrystown resident Linda Klump attended the Dec. 6 commissioners' meeting and presented several concerns and documentation to the board.

Klump said she has attempted to communicate with Terwilliger and fiscal officer Jill Stolz. She showed commissioners a certified letter she sent to the village administration that was returned to her unopened and marked "refused."

She also said she had issues with Seth McCoy and Shawn Adkins regarding her sewer hookup. According to Klump, her contractor was instructed by the village to pay for a permit, but the village did not have an ordinance requiring the permit or its fee.

At that point, Wilkin interrupted and told Klump, "I'm going to stop you for a second. Without the other parties here to defend themselves, I think we need to stop."

Klump said she understood. "But I want you to know that Mowrystown residents do have valid concerns."

"Based on what you are telling me, I would suggest that you make an appointment with our county prosecutor," Wilkin said. "Not to 'not address' the situation, but our oversight would be limited. I would suggest you put in a call to Anneka (Collins). I'm sure she would be happy to talk to you."

"I just wanted you to have background information before you decide on a sewer district for Mowrystown," Klump said.

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RESOLUTIONS

(All passed, 3-0)

• Res. No. 17-280 – Job and Family Services requests a modification within Public Assistance Fund H-00 in the amount of $20,000.

• Res. No. 17-281 – Probation requests a modification within T-10 PIIG Incentive Fund and a transfer from T-10 PIIG Incentive to T-58 JRIG in the amount of $9,500 to repay an earlier advance.

• Res. No. 17-282 – Probation requests a modification within T-23 PIIG Incentive Grant. Probation also requests to establish a new line item Advances Out 0461-T023-T09.085 and appropriate $12,000. Probation requests a transfer from T-23 PIIG Incentive Grant, Advances Out to T-10 PIIG Incentive in the amount of $12,000 to repay an earlier advance.

• Res. No. 17-283 – Probation requests to establish a new fund for the Prison Diversion Program T-58 JRIG and appropriate.

• Res. No. 17-284 – Engineer requests a modification of appropriations within the Engineer's Budget.

• Res. No. 17-285 – Engineer requests a modification of appropriations within the Engineer's Budget in the amount of $3,540.

• Res. No. 17-286 Common Pleas requests a modification of appropriations within the Common Pleas Court in the amount of $150.

• Res. No. 17-287 – Commissioners request a modification within County from Transfers Out to Commissioners Contracts Services in the amount of $5,000.

• Res. No. 17-288 – Sheriff requests a budget modification within the Sheriff Budget from Employee Salary to Equipment in the amount of $40,000.

• Res. No. 17-289 – Commissioners request an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to the RFL Sewer, Supplies in the amount of $10,000.

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Prosecutor's letter to commissioners

Dec. 4, 2017

Highland County Board of Commissioners

Dear Commissioners,

In response to your inquiry regarding the creation of a sewer district, Ohio Revised Code section 6117.03 allows a Board of County Commissioners, when authorized by the legislative authority of any municipal corporation, may by resolution lay out, establish, and maintain one or more sewer districts within its county to include a part or all of the territory within such municipal corporation as the whole or a part of such district.

This divests the village of any power over the district. OAG 1925-66. Note that the power to establish or maintain a sewer district is discretionary with the commissioners. (See OAG 2014-031 citing past opinions.)

Additionally, the commissioners may divest itself of the responsibility for the district where divestiture is not inconsistent with preservation and promotion of the public health and welfare. (OAG 1987-083.)

Upon establishing the district as a county district, the commissioners shall set the user fees pursuant to ORC 6117.02, just as is being exercised at Rocky Fork Lake. Obviously, the commissioners would be responsible for the debts associated with the sewer district; however, you would also receive any money currently held by or received in the future by the village for use of the district.

As to Mr. Beery’s letter, I am confident the code section referenced is ORC 6117 rather than 6109, as that deals with safe drinking water requirements. I see no requirement that the Court of Common Pleas become involved in the decision for the County Board of Commissioners to establish a sewer district. I also do not see any involvement in this process by the Board of Township Trustees. I will continue to research this issue; however, I did want to answer your initial questions quickly.

Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Anneka P. Collins
Highland County Prosecutor