The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

The Eastwood School District’s allocation of stimulus money is being used to help meet the costs of special education services and not for bonuses for administrators, Brent Welker, district superintendent, said.

He said a school board member received a phone call from a district resident who asked if administrators were paid bonuses through stimulus funding.

“You never know how some rumors get started,” Welker said. “This one is false and I felt the need to address it because as we head to the ballot in May to renew an existing levy, we do not want falsehoods and misstatements to hurt those efforts.”

The district has received about $350,000 in Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part-B stimulus funding.

The funding is meant for assisting children with disabilities through special education and related services.

Eastwood has until September, 2011 to spend its share, Welker said, adding that the district can use half of its funds to cover costs of special education services not covered by current state and federal revenues.

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Falling local revenues and doubts that reimbursements from the state will be sufficient to meet the costs of required programs and services prompted the Ottawa County commissioners to approve an emergency resolution that raises the sales/use tax by 0.25 percent.

With the increase, the total tax rate will be 6.75 percent, with the county share at 1.25 percent and the state portion at 5.5 percent.

The 0.25 percent increase will be in effect for three years and then automatically end, said commissioner Steve Arndt.

“State funding for many services has been dropping,” he said. “Unfortunately we are the delivery point for those services and it really puts a bind on us. We’re at the point it’s going to reach core services.”

Commissioners have cut the county’s operating budget by about $2.6 million over the past two years, he said, and the state is about six months in arrears in reimbursements to the county for service programs.

County officials said they expect the increase to go into effect in July. State law mandates a delay in the start of collections to allow for possible referendum challenges to an increase.

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

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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.

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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.

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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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