WILMINGTON — While the permitted uses for leftover CMH funds range over health, safety and welfare, the county commissioners may adopt a spending plan to bring into focus what aims they want awarded dollars to home in on.
The $3 million leftover CMH dollars are expected to be transferred in the relatively near future to the Clinton County Foundation, a local nonprofit that stewards more than 300 separate funds. The leftover CMH money is expected to be awarded by a committee whose membership makeup is yet to be determined by the county commissioners.
After a donor agreement is finalized between commissioners and the Foundation, a policy for awarding the grants will still need to be worked out, Clinton County Commissioner Mike Curry said in December.
One idea commissioners have discussed is adopting a spending plan that throws light on the type of projects they want the committee to focus on, said the commissioners’ legal counsel, Andrew McCoy, in a Wednesday interview.
“I’m still waiting for a little bit of direction from them in terms of what types of projects, what types of purposes, do they want this [grant-awarding] board to focus on,” McCoy said.
On a related matter of commissioners retaining some measure of control over the money left over from the former county-owned hospital, Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley on Wednesday recommended that the board of commissioners have a right to override the committee’s grant decisions.
Haley said he doesn’t think commissioners would exercise the option very often, but he added he “would feel better knowing that it’s there.”
The grounds in favor of the board of commissioners having that power, said Haley, is that the money “belongs to the taxpayers” rather than being “personal money.”
Haley added he doesn’t think the committee’s grant decisions will be a problem, but he noted the people on the board of commissioners as well as the members of the committee will change over time.
Commissioners and others hope that the Foundation fund that’s to be set up with the leftover CMH money becomes an endowment that is self-perpetuating and lasts for decades.
The discussion about the CMH money and the pending transfer of those funds to the Foundation is scheduled to be resumed at the commissioners next session on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Their Monday, Jan. 18 session is canceled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Clinton County Foundation can be more aggressive in its investments of those leftover CMH dollars than can the commissioners because the types of investment for public dollars are “really pretty limited” under Ohio law, according to McCoy, an attorney with the Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Jefferson Twp. Fire Station project
When the commissioners met Wednesday, Jefferson Township Trustee Dale Cochran and Jefferson Township Fire Department Assistant Chief Sandy Wisby requested commissioners consider waiving the sewer hookup and building permit fees for a new fire station project in the township.
Cochran said trustees had spoken at a township meeting with Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed about the firehouse project. Steed said there was a “very frank” conversation there, and that it was asked whether some of the construction project’s “hard costs” could be eliminated because the township is an economically depressed area.
The commissioners did not make a decision Wednesday. But Haley said he’s inclined to support the waiver as long as commissioners see the final numbers on the dollars that would be waived.
The current estimate for the building permit fee is $10,000 and the estimate for the “forced sewer main grinder and connection” fee is $15,000.
Jefferson Township is located south of Wilmington and east of Blanchester. The Village of Midland is within Jefferson Township.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.
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