Commissioners discuss extreme rainfall and the impact on the community

The Seneca County Commissioners discussed the extreme rainfall the county has seen the past months and its effect on agriculture and the area economy at their meeting Thursday morning.

Commissioner Holly Stacy presented on the concern, saying that “some counties in Ohio have been designated as disasters, which would assist us in getting relief.”

Stacy said sufficient data has not yet been gathered in order for Seneca County to apply for a disaster designation from the State of Ohio, but as soon as “enough farmers have reported through the Farm Service Agency, [she] can make the request to ask for the county to be designated for emergency.”

“Typically, if a county gets declared for disaster, then contiguous counties are counted in with that county, too,” she said.

This would mean that counties connected to Seneca County might be able to benefit from the same relief efforts Seneca County would receive under a disaster status by proximity.

“There is hardly anything planted outside of this county for acres and acres. This is a historical weather situation, and it’s going to be quite devastating.

“The trickle-down effect is going to be pretty devastating for a number of years, considering that we’re looking at 50 percent of projected revenue lost this year,” Stacy said.

During public comments, Audrey Flood from Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership offered TSEP’s future work to help with the rain concerns

“We at TSEP just wanted to say that the agricultural situation is at our attention, and I’ve been having conversations with Agricultural Extension Educator Hallie Williams about it as well. The economic implications for Tiffin and Seneca County moving forward are our concern,” she said.

Flood said that the commissioners could expect a presentation from TSEP in the near future.

Commissioner Shayne Thomas also commented that the county has “registered its concern with the proper people.”

“We could possibly use some services in the future, though, if we don’t quite make the disaster level that the State sets. We may need to lobby for advocacy.”

Thomas’ comments referenced a presentation about consulting services that Seneca County might consider agreeing to given by Mike Ditto and Ray Yonkura earlier in the commissioners meeting. Ditto and Yonkura, introduced by Commissioner Mike Kerschner, discussed possible future work with Seneca County in liaising with the state on various issues and concerns at the county level.

Ditto, a former staff member in the Ohio House of Representatives, explained that he and Yonkura wished to be “visible partners in the community,” and meant to provide services that would “help bring information happening in state government in real-time back to the county.”

“We would identify opportunities in state government where the county might benefit, and bring those things to light.

“We would also streamline the county’s communications to state officials,” he said.

Commissioner Kerschner lamented the lack of success Seneca County has had with lobbying advocates in the past.

“We tried it the same way for years and didn’t get any results. I think we need some representation, we need to get ahead of the curve, and I’m confident with these guys,” he said.

Thomas seconded Kerschner’s concerns about past lobbying efforts on behalf of Seneca County.

“The County Commissioners Association of Ohio has done a lot of good work and we agree with them much of the time, but sometimes we have disagreements because their policies don’t always align with our best interests, considering they’ve got both urban and rural areas to think about,” he said.

In other updates, Thomas mentioned that there is to be a parking committee meeting Friday.

“We’re not interested in building a parking garage downtown at this moment, and we’ve abandoned the current plan for doing something with the Calvert lot,” he said.

Thomas also brought up the OSS Solid Waste District meeting Friday, saying that “they’re hemorrhaging money and we need to find a way to downsize the organization.”

The commissioners approved:

An appropriation of $96.72 to the General Fund to account for the increase in pay rate for the Treasurer position.

A 2019-2020 Technical/Specialized Consulting Agreement with Local Government Services, LLC on behalf of the Seneca County Auditor.

A resolution entering the county into contract with DLZ Architecture services for the Seneca County Health Department.

Two bonds for Kathy J. Oliver, appointed Executive Director of Children’s Services-Probate Court, term expiring June 23, 2023.

A recommendation for the county to designate an Emergency Planning Committee.

The commissioners are to meet again 10 a.m. June 27 at their office, 111 Madison St., Tiffin.