The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

The state auditor’s office has issued a finding for recovery against former Jerusalem Township Trustee Rodney Graffis for receiving health insurance reimbursements of $7,566.03 in 2008 for which he was not eligible.

The finding is part of a 2008 audit of the township’s finances that trustees requested last year.

It is the second time the auditor has issued a finding of recovery against Graffis. In 2007, an audit showed the township paid Graffis $20,174.04 in health insurance reimbursements he was ineligible to receive.

The Ohio Revised Code permits townships to reimburse their officers and employees for health insurance premiums when they incur out-of-pocket expenses for coverage. Though Graffis asked for, and received health insurance reimbursements from the township in 2007 and 2008, he was already getting such coverage from his union.

“A finding of recovery for public monies illegally expended is issued against Rodney Graffis and the Ohio Association Risk Management Authority, his bonding company, in the amount of $7,566.03 and in favor of the Jerusalem Township General Fund,” states the audit.

Consumer and environmental groups are opposing a proposed rate plan of FirstEnergy Corp. that has the backing of organizations representing schools, hospitals, and manufacturers.

FirstEnergy filed the plan with state regulators last week. If approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio it would set in place a schedule for how rates would be set for three years, starting in June, 2011 when the current plan will expire.

The plan would use a competitive bidding process to establish supply and prices for customers who don’t choose alternative providers. The same process was used by FirstEnergy’s operating companies, Toledo Edison, Ohio Edison, and Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., last May. There would be four separate bidding sessions – one each in July and October of 2010, July 2011, and July 2012 - to determine rates.

While the plan calls for base distribution rates to remain in place, it provides for the utilities to recover the costs of property taxes, Commercial Activity Tax, income taxes as well as upgrades to distribution  systems, including substations and related equipment that were not included in the rate base determined in January, 2009.

In 2005, Pemberville made plans to pay $132,000 to purchase the old Ford

pic-fordgarage2

Garage at 118 East Front Street for the purpose of revitalizing it into a “mini-mall.”

 

Bob Renz purchased the building from the village at auction for $38,000 last year, and three businesses are now located inside.

Bob Renz, his brother Bill, and a nephew have done “a lot of renovation and more is planned for the future,” stated a letter written by Bob and Bill's mother, Joan Renz. Bob estimates he has spent $15,000 so far, which includes removing part of an old wall and rebuilding a new wall, removing two windows and replacing 16 windows and siding, remodeling the bathrooms, and adding a bathroom, new door, and an office in the back.

 Genoa school officials are hoping a pledge to remove property tax millage and reduce fees will make a 1 percent earned income tax levy on the May 4 ballot more palatable to senior citizens as well as parents with children enrolled in the Ottawa County district.
 Members of the school board and administration have scheduled a community picnic April 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the high school to discuss the income tax issue and to update the public on construction plans for a new elementary school building which is being partially funded by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
 If voters approve the income tax issue, the board plans let a 5-mill, 5-year property tax levy expire in December, 2012 – three years before it is scheduled to expire.
 “We’re trying to get the property tax off everybody’s shoulders,” Dennis Mock, school superintendent, said. “We know the economy is difficult for people and it’s really getting difficult for us.”
 Other costs will also be reduced before the start of the 2010-11 school year if the income tax is approved:
• Fees for students in kindergarten through high school will be lowered to $20 from $70.
• Pay-to-participate fees for students in sports and extra-curricular activities will be lowered to $20 from $75.
 The board plans to implement a student (K-12) pass for regular season home athletic events.
 Unlike income tax issues that Genoa voters rejected twice in 1995, this tax would only be levied on earned income.
 Income that wouldn’t be taxed includes Social Security benefits, railroad retirement benefits, disability, welfare, and survivor’s  benefits, child support, workers compensation benefits, pension and annuity distributions, IRA distributions, capital gains, federal, state, and local bond interest, and property received as a gift, bequest or inheritance.
 It will take approximately 18 months for the district to receive the full amount of revenue from an income tax, which would be in effect for five years, Bill Nye, district treasurer, said.
 He estimates it will generate about $1.5 million annually when in full effect.
 However, the district is projecting a loss in state funding of about $175,000 by fiscal 2011, Nye said, adding Genoa schools, like other districts, have seen revenues from local property taxes drop with the slumping  housing market and economy. In addition, rock bottom interest rates paid on the district’s invested funds have also hurt revenues.
 Even with cuts in spending and personnel of about $788,344 in the last school year, the district faces a deficit by the end of  the 2011-12 fiscal year without more cuts or additional revenues, Mock said.

A financial audit of Jerusalem Township for 2008, issued by the state auditor’s office last month, showed the township’s budget was shrinking due to a poor economy.

“The challenge for all townships is to provide quality services to the public while staying within the restrictions imposed by limited, and in some cases shrinking, funding,” states the audit. The township relies heavily on local taxes and has very little industry to support the tax base.

In 2008, the total cost of services, which included public safety, public works, health, conservation-recreation, and capital outlay, was $965,973, compared to $841,757 in 2007.

The township’s general receipts, which are primarily property taxes, represent 47 percent of the total cash received for governmental activities during the year. Property tax receipts for 2008 changed very little compared to 2007 because development within the township has slowed as the result of the majority of the township being located in a flood plain.

Federal regulations, new housing starts as well as home improvements and additions in the flood plain area have been drastically curtailed due to economic conditions, states the audit.

“The dependence upon property tax receipts is apparent as $436,441 of governmental activities is supported through these general receipts,” states the audit.

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