By JIM MAURER
Glass recycling will soon return to Litter Landing, the Hancock County-operated site on Findlay’s East Sandusky Street, county Commissioner Tim Bechtol said during the Hancock County Republican Party’s First Friday lunch.
Specific information will be released, but glass will not have to be separated and it will be hauled by the county to an in-state location, he said.
Collection should begin sometime next month.
It’s been several years since the recycling center accepted glass.
During a nearly 40-minute presentation Friday, Bechtol and Commissioners Mark Gazarek and Brian Robertson took turns reviewing various county operations, using a slide show of facts and figures for each department.
Bechtol said a more detailed presentation will be given at 1:30 p.m. March 28, when the “state of the county” address will be delivered at the Old Mill Stream Centre at the county fairgrounds.
Robertson said Friday the county will continue efforts this year in a variety of areas, from development of a long-term county financial plan to development of a marketing and public relations strategy.
Also on the horizon are construction of a building for probate/juvenile court and other county departments; construction of a jail expansion; a centralized record-retention area to retain mandated items; flood reduction along major transportation corridors in Findlay to maintain traffic routes for safety vehicles; and development of a long-term management plan for county-owned buildings.
But Friday was more of a look back at the past year.
In the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, a report management system was jointly purchased with the City of Findlay which provides more detailed records and allows the sheriff’s office and the Findlay Police Department to share information, Gazarek said.
Separately, the county has started the process to expand the county jail because of overcrowded conditions and the lack of adequate space for programs to assist prisoners.
The need was highlighted by sheriff’s office statistics showing that 2,959 prisoners were booked at the jail last year, an increase of 376 or 14.5 percent.
The jail has 98 beds, but the sheriff’s office usually has 120 or more inmates. The county’s cost for housing prisoners in other county jails was more than $497,000 last year. That expense does not include transportation costs for taking prisoners back and forth.
The increase in arrests required more action by the county prosecutor’s office, too. Adult felony cases increased 68 percent from 308 cases in 2014 to 518 cases in 2018.
Cases have increased across the board in the past five years, with homicide cases (manslaughter and murder) nearly doubling from five (2014-2016) to nine (2017-2018); theft, an average of 23 annually (2014-17) to 45 (2018); weapon charges, an average of 7.5 annually (2014-15) to more than 15 annually (2016-18); and drug charges, 252.5 annually (2014-2015) to 443 in 2018.
The prosecutor also has handled an increase in cases for juvenile delinquency; abuse, dependency/neglect of children; and adults contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Hancock County Common Pleas Court has seen an increase in all areas, too, with 518 new criminal case filings last year, a more than 27 percent increase from 2017. A majority of the new filings were drug-related, such as possession and trafficking.
Likewise, probation, pretrial release, and electronic monitoring have all increased in recent years.
Juvenile court has seen an increase in all areas, too.
Children’s protective services had home placement costs of more than $1.7 million last year.
Flood-reduction efforts will continue this year with completion of the initial “benching” or widening work along the Blanchard River in Findlay.
Also continuing are efforts to secure Norfolk Southern Railroad bridge improvements; acquisition of flood-prone properties; and developing a strategy for use of a $15 million state grant for flood reduction along Eagle Creek.
County sales tax receipts have increased, with more than $15.4 million received last year. In Ohio, 69 of 88 counties have a higher sales tax rate than Hancock County, Robertson said, and only three counties have a lower sales tax.
The total sales tax paid on most purchases in Hancock County is 6.75 percent, he said, with the county’s share being 1 percent.
Last year, more than $104 million was collected in sales tax in Hancock County. The state kept more than $88.7 million and returned more than $15.4 million to the county.