WILMINGTON — On Monday county commissioners authorized an advance of Children Services Levy money to help meet the increased costs of an increasing number of children in foster care.
A 3-0 vote by Clinton County commissioners follows a Jan. 24 request from officials with Clinton County Job and Family Services’ (JFS) Child Protection Unit to authorize a funds advance so the agency did not run out of money for child protection custody in March.
The funding shortfall is due to a substance-abuse scourge that in turn has led to an increased need to place children of addicted parents in foster care.
“More children have come into foster care than ever across the state and Clinton County is no exception. These children include infants who come to the agency from the hospital and are born drug-exposed, as well as children who have no one else to care for them. Foster care and related costs for Clinton County have created a one-million dollar budget shortfall as a result,” Clinton County JFS Director Kathi Spirk said Monday upon hearing the news.
“This unpredicted and unprecedented rise in foster care placements have forced us, like many other counties, to seek out new revenue sources to help provide care for these children in the future,” added Spirk.
The Children Services Levy, passed in 2014, is solely dedicated to costs associated with the care and custody of Clinton County children, she said.
Those funds are dispersed throughout the year, and the advance gives Clinton County JFS the opportunity to receive the Children Services Levy funds in advance of the disbursement.
The agency will only receive the revenue from first-half real estate tax receipts already held by the county treasurer — not tax dollars simply anticipated to be collected.
“This advance provides a temporary solution to the rising costs due to the larger number of children in our care. It continues to be our hope that we will work with the Board of Commissioners to determine sustainable solutions for the future. We appreciate the support of the Board, and will continue to work as a team for the best interest of Clinton County abused and neglected children,” said Spirk.
In separate business Monday, commissioners met with officials from the Clinton County Engineer’s Tax Map Office and the County Engineer Office to discuss the possibility of moving the Tax Map Office from the courthouse’s first floor, and thereby open it up for the Adult Probation Department of Clinton County Common Pleas Court.
As previously reported, Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck has asked for office space for his probation staff which he has said works in “cramped conditions,” and where a conversation between a probation officer and the person on probation is not really private.
Initially Monday, commissioners asked Clinton County Engineer Jeffrey B. Linkous about space on the first floor of the Veterans Service Building (the former jail) located on courthouse square downtown. He did not think that would be workable, and Clinton County Commissioners President Patrick Haley then suggested the building’s second-floor space be added to the equation, which had been slated for use by state auditors who can go elsewhere.
At the end of the discussion, Linkous said he would go and look at the Veterans Service Building’s second floor and also at the County Administration Building on Sugartree Street.
Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods, who formerly worked in the Tax Map Office when it was located elsewhere, said at one point, “I guess I think in reality, two [Tax Map] individuals in that amount of space that they [currently] have downstairs is truly in excess.”
Woods also said she agrees with the judge that, based on security and other considerations, the public defender’s office belongs inside the courthouse.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed told Linkous that though a move may mean reduced office space, the consolidation of equipment and some accessibility shortcomings, commissioners would reconfigure and renovate the new space based on recommendations from the office being moved, and make changes that would be specific to that office’s expressed needs.
The Clinton County Engineer’s Tax Map Office is responsible for the review and filing of all land surveys. For the transfer of property ownership in Clinton County, all deeds are subject to approval by the Map Office. Tax Maps showing property ownership for the 24,000-plus parcels in the county are maintained by the Map Office as required by statute for the County Auditor’s tax assessment.
On another matter, commissioners approved a work project to stop pigeons from roosting on the courthouse by using the same netting process as was done last year for the front-entrance column area. The project will address all four sides of the courthouse, and will cost $31,725.
Pigeons, that presumably had been roosting on the front-entrance side of the courthouse, now are roosting on the Sugartree Street side (south side). A four-option proposal from Terminix Commercial Pest Control Service stated, “We feel that the birds will just continue to re-locate so that eventually all four sides will need to be treated.”
All netting comes with a 10-year parts and service warranty.
Haley said it’s expensive, but he hopes that by biting the bullet this one time they will not have any more problems, adding it has been an ongoing problem that goes back a lot of years and is a matter of hygiene.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.