STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County general fund budget has looked the same for the past several years. It probably won't change in 2014.
Jefferson County commissioners Thursday held the annual tax budget hearing to get an idea of what the county auditor's office is expecting in revenue and what department heads want for budgets.
The auditor's office said department heads in the general fund submitted budgets for 2014 totaling $14,023,405 and anticipate revenue is $12,518,990.
The anticipated revenue is up about $400,000, the auditor's office reported.
The current general fund budget totals $14,166,000, which included about a $1 million carryover from 2012.
County Commissioner Tom Gentile said a big part of the budget is for fighting crime.
"The increase in crime in Jefferson County really impacts the budget," he said.
Gentile noted the money paid to attorneys for indigent criminal defendants keeps growing.
County Commissioner David Maple said proposed department budgets for 2014 are similar to this year's budgets.
"It shows county elected officials are tightening the belts," he said.
Maple said the commissioners will meet with departments to review budgets by the end of the year so the county will have a balanced budget for 2104.
County Auditor Patrick Marshall said Columbus keeps taking money away from local governments. He said it is getting harder to fix roads.
"We keep spinning our wheels trying to get the money to fix roads," he said.
County Commissioner Thomas Graham was absent from the meeting.
Also, residents of the Crestview-Belvedere area will be getting letters that they can now begin connecting homes to the new sewer system.
Commissioners signed paperwork stating the project is substantially complete, and the sewer system is ready to be used. But complaints about restoration efforts by Rudzik Excavating, the contractor for the project, keep coming into the commissioners' office.
Robert Becker of Hidden Manor said in a letter that his property was used by Rudzik during the project for hauling materials and hasn't been properly restored.
Maple said the commissioners received a letter from the county's water and sewer attorney to deny the claim by Becker because Becker signed an agreement with Rudzik separate from the county's agreement with the contractor. He said restoration to Becker's property is outside the scope of the county's contract with Rudzik. Maple said the commissioners will work to facilitate a resolution.
Cross Creek Township Trustee Geno Morelli complained to the commissioners about work done to fix township roads after excavation. He said the trustees did about $200,000 in paving work about five years ago.
He said the roads have been damaged to the point where the pavement won't last much longer.
Maple said he hasn't heard a definitive answer from Rudzik that the contractor won't make further repairs.
"The system to hold them accountable hasn't been exhausted," he said.
Shannan Gosbin, county water and sewer department director, said the county is holding back $156,000 in payment to Rudzik until restoration work is satisfactorily completed.
Commissioners also addressed ongoing odor complaints from the Apex Landfill.
Gentile said complaints have increased dramatically in June and July.
Frtiz Tulencik, a resident near the landfill, said the odor permeates the inside of homes. He said there were 73 odor complaints in June and 59 during the first nine days of July.
Tulencik said the residents are frustrated with the enforcement efforts of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Gentile said the solid waste district - JB Green Team - county health department and the Ohio EPA all receive funding from tipping fees at the landfill. He said it is ironic that the county health department and the Ohio EPA get money and then are responsible for enforcing monitoring complaints.
"Someone in Columbus has Apex's back," Tulencik said.
Salem Township Trustee Terry Bell said there are odors from the landfill everyday at State Lake Park's campgrounds.
Approved a contract extension between the county Job and Family Services Department and the Community Action Council to provide work retraining for persons laid off from Severstal Steel. The original contract for $660,824 still has $237,000 left. The contract was extended through June 2014. About 104 workers have taken advantage of the program.
Approved granting the county board of elections an additional $22,000 for its budget for the year.
Received a letter from the county Veterans Service Commission stating interest in relocating to the Towers building on Market Street. Gentile said the current building on North Street is difficult for elderly people to access. Maple said the commissioners need to develop a strategy on how offices will be located in the Towers, and Gentile said the county may ask for the help of a Realtor on how best to use the office space in the building.
Opened bids for a Community Development Block Grant project to replace sidewalks in Adena, Rayland and Richmond. The engineer's estimate was $109,558. D&L Unlimited of Wintersville was the apparent low bidder with a bid of $98,838.
Opened bids for a CDBG paving project in Richmond. The engineer's estimate was $30,855. Shelly and Sands of Rayland was the apparent low bidder with a bid of $29,145.
Were informed by Bell the monument noting the raid by Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan, who brought 2,000 troops into Indiana and Ohio in July 1863, has been restored at the intersection of state Route 43 and county Road 60. The plaque was damaged by gas and oil trucks and was moved across the road at the expense of Chesapeake Exploration.
Announced the meeting next week will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
(Law can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)