The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Jerusalem Township trustees want former Trustee Rodney Graffis to reimburse the township $20,174.04 that an audit in 2007 showed he had improperly received for health insurance coverage.

Trustee Joe Kiss said trustees plan to hire an attorney to seek recovery.

Trustees will begin interviewing candidates for legal counsel, he added.

Jerusalem Township reimburses township trustees for the out-of-pocket cost of health insurance premiums if they are denied or opt out of coverage from their primary employer. But a 2007 state audit showed that Graffis, who was defeated for re-election last November, was already getting health insurance coverage through his union.

Kiss had expected the Lucas County prosecutor’s office, which is the township’s attorney, would seek recovery from Graffis. But just five months after the audit’s finding, the prosecutor’s office said the Legislature had passed a bill that released Graffis, and other officials in Ohio with similar findings, from having to pay back the money.

House Bill 458 prohibited both the attorney general and county prosecutor from enforcing the state auditor’s findings for recovery.

The Genoa school board has approved a resolution to place a 1 percent income tax request on the May ballot.

Superintendent Dennis Mock said the district will face a deficit of about $1 million by June 30, 2012 if revenues don’t increase or expenditures aren’t reduced.

A 1 percent income tax would only be levied on earned income and not on pensions, interest or dividends, Social Security or disability benefits, or child support payments.

Mock said the income tax would roughly approximate 5.3 mills in property taxes in revenues.

Board members plan to use their next meeting to come up with a strategy for not seeking the renewal of some existing millage on residents’ tax bills.

“We are discussing some directions we can take,” Mock said. “We want to look at property taxes and see if we can let them expire.

The administration informed board members during last week’s meeting that the district has cut about $1.8 million – equal to about 11 mills in property taxes – from the operating budget since 2004.

Dave Zenk, superintendent in charge of maintenance for the Metroparks of the Toledo Area's operations division, says Oregon’s Pearson Park is in for a $498,396 capital improvement renovation slated to begin in 2010.

The projects will affect the original Pearson and the new 300-acre Pearson North expansion. Six more contracts will be bid over the next six years totaling another $100,000, Zenk said.

A one and three-quarter mile hiking and biking trail will be constructed in Pearson North that will travel alongside the 3,000 foot long Heckman Creek. The trail is designed to be positioned on the outside looking in towards the park, and is expected to be completed this year.

The trail is being funded by a $270,000 Clean Ohio Grant through the state’s Department of Natural Resources, with about $68,000 in funds being matched by the Metroparks. Zenk said bids coming in for the trail’s construction are one-third less than the original estimates.

Zenk added the Metroparks has just finished a two-year physical assessment study of its capital assets in the original parts of Pearson.

Oregon city council on Monday will vote to accept the final tap-in charges for the installation of a sanitary sewer that will serve several parcels in the area of Lallendorf Road and Cedar Point Development Park.

“Along the way, it serves 11 properties,” said Finance Director Kathy Hufford at a Committee of the Whole meeting last Monday. “There is no requirement for property owners to tap in. But when they need to tap in due to septic failure, or they just want to tap in, the fee they have to pay is listed in the ordinance.”

Those fees range from a low of $5,957.39 to a high of $61,368.28.

Councilman Jerry Peach said the project “is of great benefit to property owners.”

“There’s not an obligation to tap in, and the system is there when needed,” said Peach.

Mayor Mike Seferian said the “cash to tap” process is more economical compared to residents petitioning for sanitary sewers.

“This cash to tap eliminates a couple procedures. It would likely be a little more costly if it had been a petitioned project. So it’s probably one of the more economical ways to achieve sanitary sewer and does have the other benefit of paying as you choose to use it,” said Seferian.

A ruling by the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office on the cause of a fire that destroyed a restaurant at the Stony Ridge Inn, Latcha Road, was expected by last Thursday.

Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer described the fire as “suspicious” in origin and said Thursday afternoon that the Fire Marshal told him an announcement was pending.

He said someone at the nearby motel and passersby reported the fire about 5:40 a.m. Wednesday.

The kitchen area of the restaurant was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

Seven area fire departments responded and were able to get the blaze under control in about two hours but were at the scene for several more hours to battle “hot spots,” the chief said.

“The restaurant is completely destroyed,” Chief Hummer said. “The bar and banquet areas suffered water and smoke damage.”

Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms have also been called in to assist with the investigation.

One firefighter was slightly injured when he slipped on ice, the chief said, but there were no serious injuries reported.

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