By JIM MAURER

STAFF WRITER

Hancock County is looking at over a $500,000 shortfall this year in child placement funds, which pay for foster care and adoption services, the county commissioners were told Thursday.

Diana Hoover, director of the county Department of Job and Family Services, said the child placement funds, which currently cover 65 children, have a $512,000 estimated shortfall for the year. Bills still must be paid for a portion of July and August, she said.

Hoover had warned of a coming budget shortfall earlier this year, which led to a 1.2-mill property tax request on the May primary ballot. However, the levy, which would have generated $2.3 million a year for 10 years, was soundly rejected by voters.

The commissioners will transfer funds to the agency on a monthly basis for the remainder of this year because the county cannot provide a lump sum transfer.

Another possible levy attempt was discussed Thursday. But any levy attempt would not be for much less than the 1.2 mills requested in May, Hoover and Commissioner Mark Gazarek said, since a majority of the revenue generated by the levy would have gone for children services. About $50,000 would have assisted adult protective services.

Commissioner Brian Robertson said this will be a difficult fourth quarter for the county, financially, as other budgets will be affected to “protect (the children).”

Separately, several residents of Northtowne Drive questioned the quality of the Dalzell Ditch clearing work. Paula Dillon and James Coulter said more needs to be done to clear the ditch in their area.

Dillon presented the commissioners with photos of the conditions on their properties after the work was done. Property owners will be assessed to help pay for the work.

Last December, the commissioners awarded a $455,612 contract for cleanup of the 0.75-mile-long ditch to Great Lakes Demolition, Vickery.

The ditch starts at the Blanchard River east of Interstate 75, extends through the Findlay High School parking lot, passes under the Broad-Trenton Avenue intersection, then extends northeast to Bolton Street, which it follows a short distance before crossing Melrose Avenue.

It had been about 21 years since work was done on the ditch, which floods during heavy rains.

The commissioners tabled a resolution to set final assessments for the project Thursday, and later approved a resolution for a change order to appropriate about another $74,000 for the project. The approval came after discussion on the issue with Steve Wilson, project manager with the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District.

Wilson said if more work needs to be done, it will be the contractor’s financial responsibility.

Separately, the commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding with the City of Findlay designed to streamline the mowing process for city and county properties within the city limits.

There are 31 county-owned properties which the city will maintain and 27 city-owned properties which the county will maintain. Each group of properties equals about 5.75 acres.

The agreement will provide a more efficient system for both the city and the county, said Phil Johnson, assistant county prosecutor.

Also, the commissioners approved a resolution to resurface Hancock County 304 (formerly U.S. 30) and Hancock County 330, with the state paying $1.3 million, or 80 percent of the project. That is up from the $1.1 million the state offered in 2016 when the project was proposed. The Hancock County Engineer’s Office will pay for the remainder.

Separately, the commissioners approved a resolution for a change order with Quinn Concrete Construction, Toledo, which is undertaking the annual sidewalk replacement and repair program in county villages. The $3,000 increase will cover an additional 77 feet of sidewalk.

Work is being done in Benton Ridge, Arcadia and Mount Blanchard. The $120,000 contract is funded with state Community Development Block Grant funds.

Also, Commissioner Tim Bechtol brought up the idea of allowing hunters to use county-owned property behind buildings on Hancock County 140.

But after a brief discussion, the commissioners seemed to favor no hunting in the area because of nearby buildings, liability concerns, farmland leased in the area, and no set policy on hunting.

Separately, the final household hazardous waste collection at Litter Landing this week resulted in long traffic lines. Robertson said he noticed several contractor trailers waiting in line. The collection was for county residents only and not for contractors. He said next year there will be better enforcement.

Maurer: 419-427-8420

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