EATON — Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech would like there to be a “process” in place for verifying agency need when requesting levies be added to ballot.
During the Preble County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 9, the suggestion came up when discussing Preble County Board of Development Disabilities’ recent decision to “freeze” continuing levy dollars.
Previously, the board had discussed Preble County Board of Development Disabilities’ fund balance of almost seven million dollars, with Creech noting, he saw this as them not needing their 2017 1.9 mills levy after all.
“Based on the discussion we had on Monday, I put some thought in on it, I think we need a process in place. We’ve never had it. Since I’ve been here as commissioner, we have people who say, ‘Hey, we need money, we want to put a levy on’ and we trust them. In this instance, I think we need to learn from it,” Creech said.
He suggested having Auditor Lavon Wright involved on the front end, have her provide the Board of Commissioners with a “snapshot” of the requesting agency’s finances. From there, the Budget Commission can review the provided information.
“I don’t know if this has ever happened in the history of the county, but it is the first time I’ve ever heard of it,” he said.
Commissioner Denise Robertson added, “I agree. We definitely need to ensure that we’ve verifying there is a need to even request to raise taxes.”
Wright suggested — at the very least — they ask the departments to provide plans for the expense.
She added, the Budget Commission recently did a public records request for Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ regarding its meeting on Sept. 17. According to Wright, those minutes do not reflect any discussion regarding levies or freezing the DD’s continuing levy, which contradicts what representatives from Preble County DD previously told the Budget Commission.
“They can [add corrections and additions later] but as of right now, there is nothing in those minutes,” Wright said.
In other business:
•Megan and Dexter Dixon spoke during the meeting’s public comments portion, regarding a situation where they feel Preble County Children Services has wronged them. Their children were removed from Megan Dixon’s care in June, due to a complaint from Dixon’s parents where they claimed she had a “mental health breakdown.”
Megan Dixon claims, her parents filed the complaint the wrong way and should have filed through Montgomery County. However, Preble County Children Services took custody of her children at that time.
Megan Dixon is a social worker herself. She claims this situation has caused her to lose her job, as she was fired after someone called her place of employment and told her about the situation with Preble County Children Services.
“I have no history of mental health, no history of criminal activity, and no drug history,” she said. “When Preble County Children services stepped in, this is where the problem with them [began]. They did no investigation of me whatsoever. I came to all meetings and followed all proper things they asked me to do. [Dexter Dixon] and I are divorced, but came back together through this.
“He was not given any chance to make a case to have [custody of their children]. He was not investigated either, to see if he had housing with a place [their youngest daughter could stay] while they investigated me, or anything like that. I had statements from my doctor – statements showing my mental health and I even went to a hospital and voluntarily stayed there for 24 hours.
“Children Services would say they were not going to look at any of my records. I had heard they did not want to look at them, because my mother told them I was faking them all. I signed releases for them to contact my doctor, and to this day they have not done that. This happened on June 6. This isn’t something that just happened — we’ve been fighting it in the proper way.”
She added, they wanted to speak to the Preble County Board of Commissioners after hearing there is “no oversight” of Preble County Children Services. According to Dixon, there is no “ombudsman” over Preble County Children Services — a public advocate who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of mal-administration or a violation of rights.
“We’ve called up to the national level and they have not heard of another county in the country that did not have an ombudsman, which provides a neutral oversight,” Megan Dixon said.
“Just for the record, the commissioners oversee the personnel there and their budget. When it comes to caseload, we can’t really be involved in that. It is a personal matter. We don’t have the oversight, if you will, on their caseload,” Commissioner Creech said.
Megan Dixon said, this was the route recommended to them by the Ohio Governor’s Office and State Representative J. Todd Smith. She claims to have called Commissioner Chris Day several times, but never received a return call.
•Preble County Engineer Kyle Cross gave his Landfill, Recycling and Sewer District monthly updatr, in which he reported on the ongoing illegal dumping issues in Preble County, specifically where the National Trail Local School District bins are concerned.
As previously reported, the school district had to remove their county recycling bins during the summer due to illegal dumping. However, residences have asked for their return. National Trail Superintendent Bob Fischer attended a recent meeting with Preble County Solid Waste District Assistant Director Beth Wright to propose constructing a fence around the county bins.
Cross brought the discussion back to the table during the meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 9, to ask for the board’s support.
“The community is interested in when they’re going to get the recycle bins back up there. The other portion of it is the fencing the school requested around it. Getting quotes, it would be approximately $15,000 to enclose and better control ,” Cross said. “That being presented to the board, we ask for a bit of direction, is that something to pursue or not?”
He added, the Solid Waste Plan calls for a certain number public recycling bins in the county and it is important for them to bring back the National Trail recycling bins.
Commissioners Creech and Robertson both affirmed the PCSWD has their approval to move forward.
“I think we should use this as a pilot and see if it works for awhile,” Creech says.
Robertson added, “In the long run, if it saves us from increasing that bill just because people are illegal dumping, it could be worth it. Let’s do this as a pilot and see how it goes.”
•The board authorized the discarding of personal property for EMA.
•The board noted receipt of letters from the engineer referencing the hire of Wesley Cole and Branson Ball and the resignation of Tristen Sizemore.
•Commissioner Creech noted, to date, Preble County has paid Bricker & Eckler $30,000 for legal services regarding the solar projects in Preble County.
•Engineer Cross noted, Preble County will no longer be working with Fred Smith of CDM Smith, instead, CDM Smith has assigned a new project manager for the Sewer District Six (SD6) project.
The Preble County Board of Commissioners meets every Monday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Preble County Courthouse, unless noted otherwise.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH