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Housing initiative announced at Carroll commissioners

By SARA KLEIN News Leader Staff Writer Published: March 9, 2017 12:00 AM

A housing program for needy residents and the fall-out from recent sales tax legislation were on the docket at the March 2 and March 6 meetings of Carroll County's board of commissioners.

John McCall, director of the county's Family and Children First Council, announced at the board's March 2 meeting a new initiative designed to improve access to housing and housing-related assistance for residents who are low-income, disabled, experiencing an emergency or otherwise disadvantaged.

The initiative would be funded with $25,000 in grant monies from the Department of Job and Family Services.

McCall explained that the initiative is, in part, a response to data indicating that housing and housing-related expenses are the most challenging problem for needy residents in this region of Ohio.

According to data from United Way of Greater Canton, 55 percent of the 269 calls to the organization's 2-1-1 social services hotline in the last six months of 2016 were for assistance related to housing. Of that 55 percent, 23 percent was directly related to housing needs.

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Callers asked for help with paying heating fuel bills and rent, referrals to low-income subsidized housing, information about shelters for the homeless and for residents in emergencies, and information about public housing.

Mathual Campbell, superintendent of the county's board of developmental disabilities, who chairs the county's Outreach and Housing Mobilization Committee, explained that the initiative is the culmination of several years of work to address access to housing.

"We've been working on this for two or three years trying to wrap our heads around what is the issue and what we can do about it. The problem we have is that we have no designated person you can call about a housing issue who takes ownership of it," he stated.

"We're hoping with this $25,000 we can get someone that's going to be that point person, and also that this person is going to collect data so that, down the road, we can collect more funding. This issue is not just homeless. It's to gauge what our homeless situation is, it's to gauge what we can do to help get people back on their feet. Then hopefully they'll have a job and get their own housing after that," he said.

McCall said a request-for-proposals document for organizations and agencies that seek to provide housing-related assistance is available from the FCFC web site, familyfirst@carrollcountyohio.us; via an e-mail request; or from the FCFC office in the lower level of the health department at 301 Moody Avenue in Carrollton.

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A copy of the RFP can also be downloaded from the Job and Family Services web site, www.carrollcountyjfs.com, and from the county's web site, www.carrollcountyohio.us.

The board's March 6 meeting featured discussion about a federal mandate passed in 2016 that now prohibits Ohio from charging sales tax on Medicaid managed care services in order to receive federal matching dollars, a move that Carroll County commissioners have said will result in a loss of some $200,000 in sales tax to the county this year.

Board President Jeff Ohler said although revenue from ad valorem tax on oil and gas products has offset some of the county's most recent sales tax loss, most of the ad valorem funds, about 66 percent, go directly to the county's school districts. Of the $630,000 in additional funds that Carroll County collected from ad valorem in 2015, only seven percent went to the county's General Fund.

In addition, recent drops in the market value of oil could mean the county's ad valorem revenue will also drop, said Ohler.

In his new two-year state budget plan, Ohio Governor John Kasich has proposed that the state reimburse counties for some of their sales tax loss resulting from the Medicaid tax change.

Ohler said the state will consider two factors when determining how much to reimburse a county: first, what percentage the Medicaid sales tax represents of the county's total sales tax revenue for the year; and, second, whether the county is charging the maximum sales tax allowed by law.

Counties that charge the full sales tax allowed by law are in line to receive a greater reimbursement for Medicaid sales tax losses, said Ohler.

According to information Ohler provided, seven percent of Carroll County's sales tax revenue has come from Medicaid. The county collects sales tax at a rate of one percent, which is below the maximum 1.5 percent allowed.

Noting that he does not support raising the county's sales tax, Ohler indicated that the loss in sales tax from the Medicaid tax change could have an impact on the county's budget in the future.

"On the sale tax side, it's too early to start talking about budgets, but we need to keep it in the back of our heads," he commented.

Ohler said under the state's reimbursement plan, Carroll County would receive one year of reimbursement beginning late this year, when the state would give the county $56,000, an amount that represents 25 percent of the anticipated $200,000 in lost Medicaid sales tax.

The county would continue to receive reimbursement in 2018 with a payment of 75 percent of the anticipated sales tax loss. However, Ohler noted, the county will still see a 25-percent reduction in sales tax revenue that year resulting from the loss of Medicaid sales tax.

In other business:

HEARD the County Dog Pound report for Feb. 26 March 4: nine dogs impounded, six adopted, two redeemed, none euthanized, no citations for no license and no citations for running at large.

APPROVED a contract with Accurate Onsite, LLC, of Wooster, in the amount of $850 per design for leach field septic systems for residences on Apollo Road, Aurora Road, Ascot Road and Mobile Road. The systems will be paid for with EPA-awarded Water Pollution Control Loan funds for septic repair or replacement at eligible households.

ACCEPTED the bid of $30,410 from Dayton Excavating, of Salineville, for the installation of three NPDES as part of the Water Pollution Control Fund septic repair and replacement program.

APPROVED two road use maintenance agreements with Rover Pipeline, LLC to use more than 20 county and township roads for traffic related to construction of the Rover Pipeline and lateral lines in Orange, Perry and Loudon townships.

AGREED that Board Vice President Robert Wirkner and Carroll County Sheriff Dale Williams would begin negotiations to develop a new contract with the Fraternal Order of Police. Williams said the current contract ends this year.

APPROVED two transportation contracts for the department of county transit. The first contract is with the Board of Developmental Disabilities and is effective from March 1, 2017, to Feb. 28, 2018. The second contract is with the Veterans Service Commission and is effective from Feb. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2018.

HEARD Sheriff Williams and Wirkner agree to review applications submitted for the Emergency Services Appreciation and Recognition Day awards.

APPROVED a request from Kate Offenberger, director of Job and Family Services, to promote Rebecca Weaver from unit support worker to eligibility referral specialist level I at a wage of $16.54 per hour.


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