SIDNEY — Local elected officials, Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst and Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst joined U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan and State Senate President Keith Faber to address business owners and community leaders for a breakfast briefing about relevant area issues at the Shelby Oaks Golf Club on Wednesday morning.
Bornhorst began his portion of the program by addressing Shelby County’s budget, projects and concerns.
“We are the most unique county in Ohio for one reason: it’s called jobs. Agriculture is the No. 1 industry here in Shelby County. But what makes us unique — industry and business. Thirty-four percent of all our jobs in Shelby County revolve around manufacturing. That’s the highest percentage of any county in the state. It’s quiet an accomplishment to have that combination of agriculture of business and industry,” Bornhorst said.
Bornhorst said the county’s expenses this year was only $13,000 more than what they spent out of the general revenue fund in 2001. He said other than state mandated programs, there are only five entities which are funded from general revenue fund and they are: the Extension Office, Soil and Water Conservation District, Sidney Shelby Economic Partnership, Public Transit and the Senior Center.
He said the county’s health insurance program is one county budget’s “main cost factors” but will only have an increase of .7 percent. He said this is due to no major illnesses.
In terms of revenue, Bornhorst said sales tax accounts for 34 percent, and casino derived revenue and local government funds comprises only 9 percent of the county’s revenue. However, due to federal regulations, Ohio will be taking a “significant hit” of $227,000 next year since it will no longer be able to collect sales tax on Medicaid managed care.
Bornhorst said the passage of the Temporary Worker Service Bill is another potential major loss for the county. It would be a loss of $175,000 which could take effect at some point in 2017. Bornhorst said the bill provides temporary workers for the Shelby County and has not passed yet, but it will exempt the sales tax for different entities on more than 700 temporary workers in the county.
Between the loss of Medicaid managed care sales tax and the tax on the service of temporary workers provided for the county, Shelby County will potentially loose a total of approximately $400,000 for the general revenue fund by the end of 2017.
Bornhorst moved on to discuss the county projects. He said the Shelby County Courthouse was the No. 1 project within the last two years, and they plan to begin roof repairs within the next month. The Election Board building will also be receiving a new roof. He said the Shelby County Jail needs some “upkeep” since it is being used at 95 percent of its capacity, and the air conditioning and heating needs to be replaced at the Annex Building. He shared the county’s emergency communications had some updates to keep the first responders in connected, and they are looking at long term goals for the emergency communications which will be costly, but necessary. Finally, they are seeking a location for record’s storage.
Lastly, Bornhorst talked about the county’s concerns, starting with heroin. He said the county is looking for funds to work on the heroin issue to help those effected by the epidemic.
Bornhorst said they have concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because they are “missed the ball” and not using “much common sense” in how they make determinations. He said the EPA acts as the “prosecutor, judge and executioner” and the only way things will change is if legislature and the governor “takes a hard look at what they are doing” since “there are no checks and balances.”
Finally, Bornhorst asked if the county is “handing out too much” because nearly 20 percent of the county’s population receives some type of food assistance given there are so many jobs available.
Barhorst was the last elected official to speak Wednesday morning, and he covered goals for Sidney set by the Sidney City Council at their biennial retreat in February.
The water source project was the first of eight goals discussed. He said the project is ahead of schedule and that the well field should be ready to begin pumping in the next few weeks.
As a part of the city’s recreation activities, Barhorst boasted the Living History Civil War weekend was a “huge success.” He said the city was excited the Great Miami River was named become part of the National Water Trail, and for Sidney to have joined the U.S. bike route 25. They are currently working on connecting the bike trail from Sidney to Piqua.
Barhorst said the city is seeking funding for the long-term plan for the landscaping of Sidney’s Interstate 75 and state Route 47 exchange exit ramps. He also spoke on the goal to revitalize downtown through Sidney Alive, the group created to promote development through advocacy, marketing events and activities downtown.
Barhorst urged citizens to take part in the Comprehensive Plan that is the process of being formulated to determine Sidney’s future development.
“An additional Comprehensive Plan update public forum is being planned for Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Historic Sidney Theatre. I would encourage all of you take part in that forum so that your voice is a part of the voice of the community,” said Barhorst.
According to Barhorst, branding is an important topic for the city in order to promote and set Sidney apart from other communities. He said the results of the Comprehensive Plan will be used to formulate the city’s branding strategy.
Capital projects were briefly touched on by Barhorst. He said the city recently adopted its five year plan for years 2017-2021 in an effort to identify funding needed for the underground utilities projects. Out of the city’s $60 million identified over the five years for capital projects, approximately $23 million will go unfunded for streets, bridges, storm/sewers, parks, airport, water plant and sewer plant improvements.
Barhorst said more improvements would have been needed if it wasn’t for the additional .25 percent in the increase of local income tax money He said this year, $2.7 million was dedicated solely to street and bridge repair, with approximately $3 million coming next year.
Barhorst said property was purchased for a future north-end fire station. He said the strategic location will reduce response times and strengthen the fire department’s ability to meet the north-end needs.
“There is unanimous belief among council members that we need to vigorously enforce existing city codes. We believe that property owners are more likely to invest in their property if they know that their neighbors are not going to be permitted to let their property deteriorate. We also understand that there may be a need to pass additional legislation to make Sidney an even better place to live, work, worship and raise a family,” said Barhorst.
The breakfast was sponsored by the Sidney-Shelby Chamber of Commerce.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.