Commissioners discuss Ag Society request, Economic Development

By Kelsey Kimbler -

PREBLE COUNTY — According to Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech, estimates to repair the roof of the Expo Building are coming in higher than expected. During the Preble County Commissioners’ meeting on Monday, April 20 Creech shared information from Fair Board President Clinnie Stevenson, whom has been seeking quotes for the work on the Expo Building and other projects.

“I talked to Clinnie Stevenson this morning. He said, the estimates are coming back on the Expo Building higher than expected. It’s looking like maybe around $45,000 to $50,000. I told him to get us the estimates,” Creech said.

He added, they wanted the money from the DP&L Easement to be used for capital improvements and he considers repairing the Expo roof to be a capital improvement. Creech recommended transferring the money from the DP&L Easement over to the Preble County Agricultural Society so they can make improvements to the grounds.

“When we look at the dollars that are going to be spent, we wanted the money to be used for capital improvements. They have a long list of capital improvements that they are working on. Repairing the Expo roof I would consider a capital improvement. He did say they’re going to get about $9,000 back on the DP&L rebate, so that’s huge. I would like to see us move that money to the Fair Board ASAP,” he said.

“Clinnie is working his butt off, they’re making some great improvements. We earmarked that money for capital improvements. I was wanting, personally, maybe to see it toward the Expo Addition, but it doesn’t sound like there is as much interest there and it is a huge cost in these times — we’re not going to end up getting it done, probably, for a little while. They do have some major costs down there. As we all know, taking care of a roof on a barn is the most important thing and they need to get that roof repaired ASAP.”

Commissioner Chris Day asked if Stevenson had received any quotes. Stevenson responded, he has verbal quotes, but is going to get them in writing. Day said he would like to see quotes to “see what they’re going to do.”

Commission President Denise Robertson asked for the quotes before any action is taken.

“What happens if we give them the money — because you’re right, we allocated that money to be spent at the Fairgrounds — say we transfer that over, the [$45,359.27] and then that’s not enough?” she asked.

Creech countered, “But it won’t be enough. That’s what they’re supposed to get though. It’s not going to be enough. They’ll have to figure something else out.”

He added, it might be enough to repair the Expo Building roof, but there are other projects Stevenson mentioned which needed to be completed.

Day asked again for “something in writing” on the Expo roof repair. Creech said they would revisit the situation during the Wednesday, April 22, meeting.

In other business, the board discussed approximately $63,000 received from Warren County Port Authority for projects done with Neaton and Henny Penny. Commission Clerk Kim Keller explained, normally those funds would be transferred to Economic Development and the Preble County Development Partnership. However, she asked if the board would be interested in only transferring part of those funds, since the intention behind the agreement was for Economic Development to become self-sufficient.

“Because of the amount that it is, and the point of the agreement with Warren County Port Authority and giving the money to [Economic Development] was so they could eventually become self-sufficient and the county wouldn’t have to keep giving them money throughout the years,” she said.

“The thought was, that possibly this year — and it’s real handy since we’re looking at possible loss of revenue — instead of just giving them the whole [$63,000] maybe using part of that to cover a couple of quarterly payments. Normally we pay them $22,000 a quarter.”

Commissioner Creech asked who’s idea it was, but Keller said it was just a discussion.

“I don’t like it,” he said. “I think the Economic Development, should become sustainable, I don’t know, but if the county isn’t supporting economic development, why would anyone else? I think no changes should be made and they should get the full sum.”

Commissioner Day countered, it was part of the original conversation that Economic Development become self-sufficient over the years. However, Creech believed they should continue to support economic development monetarily.

“Like I said, the original discussion when this was formed, we looked at several models and some of them were self-sufficient in numerous ways. That was kind of a goal, possibly, down the road. Nothing was set in stone,” Day said.

“I think it is hard to go out and ask other businesses to support Economic Development, when the commissioners are not,” Creech argued. “I think we have to lead by example.”

Day said he didn’t disagree, but it was part of the original discussion that Economic Development could become self-sufficient.

Commissioner Robertson said she does not believe Economic Development is self-sufficient at this point, but they should be open to the conversation in the future.

“I think the discussion was it would be self-sustaining, but I don’t think we’re there yet. So, we should just go ahead and pass through, continue as pass through, but it does need to be part of the discussion going forward, especially if they really do start turning out a lot of these projects. They could, with the way things are working out, they could be self-sustaining. At this point I don’t think they are,” she said.

Creech countered, as Economic Development grows they are not going to become more self-sustaining, but instead are going to accumulate bigger costs as they add personnel.

Robertson said, they are not “there yet,” but it needs to be part of the discussion moving forward.

Creech added, “If we’re going to do this, we need to have this discussion on the front-end. And not, ‘Hey, this money that we got, we’re not giving it to you.’ I think in the future, if they are self-sustaining, that is when we say, ‘Hey, we’re at the point where we’re going to take half of this money up front.’ Tell them up front and not once the money is in the bank.”

Commissioners also:

•Approved a resolution authorizing payment to CSEA ($2,463.22) and Recycling ($1,280).

•Approved a resolution releasing a debt of interest charges on customer accounts for the Preble County Landfill.

•Noted receipt of and approved by signing a 2020 Preble County Fair Exhibitor Agreement with the Preble County Agricultural Society, $545, for REA.

•Noted receipt of and approved by signing the HVAC Maintenance Inspection agreement with Advanced Mechanical Services, Inc., $1,380, for Job and Family Services.

•Noted receipt of and approved by signing the Letter of Engagement agreement with The Ohio Auditor of State, $59,032, Bureau of Inspection.

•Noted receipt of and approved by signing the amendment to the Help Me Grow Part C Early Intervention Agreement between Preble County DD, JFS, and FCFC, to increase amount ($9,753), for Help Me Grow.

•Noted receipt of and approved by signing MOU for the funding of the wraparound program with MHRB and JFS for FCFC.

•Noted receipt of and approved by signing an amendment to the Child Placement agreement with Agape for Youth to increase amount ($250,00), for Children Services.

•Noted receipt of and approved by signing a Legal Services agreement with Rich & Gillis Law Group, LLC, $2,000, for REA.

The Preble County Commissioners meet every Monday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Preble County Courthouse, unless noted otherwise.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH