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Montgomery County OKs $891M in 2018 spending, warns of 2019 problems

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 6:48 AM

            The Montgomery County Administration Building in downtown Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The Montgomery County Administration Building in downtown Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The Montgomery County Commission on Tuesday adopted a 2018 budget that will see increases in spending for nearly every department and agency. But the numbers during the next budget round for 2019 don’t look as rosy, county commissioners warned.

“We can take a deep breath this year, but next year be prepared,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge.

RELATED: $9M shortfall: Montgomery County faces program cuts, employee wage reductions

The looming shortfall on the 2019 horizon is the loss of $9 million in Medicaid managed care sales tax revenue the county is no longer allowed to collect. One-time transitional funding is allowing the county to bridge the gap through next year.

“Every county in the state and every transit authority is wrestling with the loss of this Medicaid managed care sales tax,” said Montgomery County Commission President Dan Foley.

RELATED: Will RTA raise fares, eliminate routes after revenue loss?

MORE: Dan Foley won’t run again for Montgomery County commission

The 2018 budget of $891.2 million represents a $30.8 million or 3.6 percent increase over 2017. The 2018 calendar-year appropriation is $847.6 million. State and federal grants add another $43.6 million, according to the Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget.

“There are increases in every programmatic area, and those increases are driven primarily by our staff aggressively pursuing the maximum amount of grant funding that we can receive,” said Joe Tuss, Montgomery County Administrator. “Whether it’s in judicial and criminal justice, whether it’s in Environmental Services, and likewise in our social services area, it really is that piece that drives that additional $30 million.”

As required by law, the 2018 budget is balanced, Tuss said. Almost half of the budget, $417.6 million, will go toward providing social services.

MORE: County puts $3.5M toward opioid fight

The number of budgeted positions is down 16 from 2017 to 4,366, but health insurance is coming at a greater cost per employee, Tuss said.

“We continue to really hold the line in terms of maintaining staffing levels that are consistent with the right-sizing of the organization was forced to do in 2011 and 2012 as part of the Great Recession,” he said. “Any new positions either require a revenue offset or some additional revenue to be brought into the system.”

With no deal on shutdown, GOP accuses Sherrod Brown of flip-flop

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:23 PM

            WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 18: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol January 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Congress is working to avoid a government shutdown ahead of a midnight Friday deadline. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
            Aaron P. Bernstein
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 18: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol January 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Congress is working to avoid a government shutdown ahead of a midnight Friday deadline. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)(Aaron P. Bernstein)

As a possible shutdown grew nearer on Friday, Republicans took aim at Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, accusing him of a flip-flop over a temporary measure to keep the government open for four weeks.

Brown on Thursday appeared set to back the Republican-backed four-week plan because it extended a program known as CHIP that provides health insurance for more than 220,000 Ohio children. But Brown Friday said he would instead support an alternative plan to keep the government open for a few days while the Senate worked toward a longer-term deal.

It’s not clear, though, if even that proposal would gain congressional approval. President Donald Trump Friday invited Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to the White House in hopes of negotiating a last minute deal. After the meeting Schumer said “We had a long and detailed meeting. We discussed all of the major outstanding issues. We made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue.”

The plan to keep the government operating for a few days while negotiations continue was proposed by Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Both have criticized the temporary spending measures that have become commonplace as Congress fails to pass a long-term budget.

Congress has passed short-term spending resolutions three times since the fiscal year began in October.

RELATED: Five things to know if a shutdown happens

“We owe it to the people we work for to keep working and get the job done,” said Brown.

Republicans seized on the Democratic senator’s apparent change of heart over the four-week spending plan.

Bob Salera of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called Brown’s decision “alarming” but “unsurprising.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” said it’s “unusual that you have this kind of opposition when there’s nothing objectionable there.”

RELATED: Dreamers rally in Dayton to support DACA

He said Democrats were hoping to get a resolution on DACA, an acronym for a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, “but it’s an issue that hasn’t been resolved yet and it will take a little more time.”

“This is not a good way to score political points,” Portman said.

Last December, Brown voted against a temporary spending bill that kept the government open because it only extended CHIP money for three months instead of five years. In a floor speech the night the bill passed, Brown complained that a three-month extension “provides no certainty to the states that are running CHIP.”

RELATED: 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program

But if he votes against the House version of the new spending bill to keep the government open for the next four weeks, Republicans can argue that Brown in essence is voting against a six-year extension of CHIP. Brown faces re-election in November.

The House Thursday passed a bill that would keep the federal government open through mid-February. Both House and Senate Democrats have balked, in part because it does not offer legal guarantees for DACA children, the so-called Dreamers.

Because of different rules in the two chambers, the House bill could pass by a simple majority, but the Senate needs 60 votes to approve it. If no agreement is reached, the federal government could partially close at midnight Friday for the first time since 2013.

RELATED: Trump and Schumer end private talks with no deal in hand

It would represent the first time that the federal government has closed when the House, Senate and presidency are all held by the same party.

Republicans made clear they will blame Senate Democrats if a shutdown occurs. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the last–minute maneuvering “absolutely, needless, completely unnecessary and wholly because of Senate Democrats trying to shut down the government.”

But a Washington Post-ABC News Poll released Friday indicated most Americans blamed the party in power: 48 percent of those polled blamed Republicans while 28 percent blamed Democrats.

Rezabek to seek judgeship, opens up hot race for Ohio House seat and Dan Foley confirms he’s running

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 4:25 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:39 PM

Rezabek seeks judgeship

UPDATE: Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley has confirmed he will run for the Ohio House 43rd District seat.

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, announced on Thursday that he will not seek re-election and will instead run for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Juvenile division judge.

His decision will likely lead to one of the hottest Statehouse races in the region as the Ohio 43rd is one of the most evenly divided politically in the Dayton area.

Thursday night Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley confirmed that he will run for Rezabek’s seat. Foley, a Democrat, had earlier announced that he would not run for re-election but will serve out his term  on commission through the end of this year.

Democrat Ralph Dean Brill of Brookville, also took out nominating petitions from the Montgomery County Board of Elections but could not be reached for comment.

On Friday Clayton Councilman Kenny Henning will formally announce he is running  in the Republican primary for the seat, and Stephanie Garrett of West Alexandria has also confirmed she is running in that primary.

RELATED: Dan Foley won’t run again for Montgomery County commission

Foley declined to say more about his candidacy but said he will hold a formal announcement news conference soon.

Dan Foley, Montgomery County commissioner, speaks at the Engineers Club in Dayton. FILE(Staff Writer)

‘We made an impact’

Rezabek said he wants to use his experience as a lawyer and a legislator to bring change to the juvenile court.

“We made an impact in the legislature,” he said. “But the real impact is directly on the community and directly with those kids and with those families.”

RELATED: Rezabek bill would give judges more say on trying juveniles as adults

Rezabek, an attorney specializing in juvenile cases, is running for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Juvenile Judge Nick Kuntz, who cannot run for re-election due to age limitations for judges.

The race for Kuntz’s seat has attracted a lot of attention, with at least five other people taking out nominating petitions.

They include Democrats Julie Bruns of Miamisburg, Greg Scott of Dayton, Steven Wagenfeld of Centerville and Cynthia L. Westwood of Farmersville. Republican C. Ralph Wilcoxson II has also obtained a petition.

Rezabek ran unsuccessfully for the job in 2012. First elected to the Ohio House in 2014, he won a bitter re-election battle in 2016 against David Sparks of Clayton.

RELATED: Race for 43rd House district has turned ugly

Henning said he will make the formal announcement that he is running for the seat at an 11:30 a.m. news conference Friday at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center’s adult center, 6801 Hoke Road, Clayton.

RELATED: Donald Trump is the new president and local residents saw it happen in person

“I’m 100 percent invested in the community and I want to ensure that our 43rd House district has a strong champion to advocate for the district in Columbus.” said Henning, who is a judicial assistant to Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Erik Blaine.

Kenny Henning, Clayton councilman(Staff Writer)

A Clayton native who has served on the council since 2012, Henning said his campaign will focus on farming and agriculture, the concerns of small business owners and trying to restore Local Government Fund revenue slashed by the legislature. He said he also wants to address the opioid addiction crisis.

Garrett is president of the Preble County Convention and Visitors Bureau and assistant treasurer of the Ohio Republican Party.

Stephanie Garrett, president of the Preble County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is running as a Republican for the Ohio House 43rd District seat.(HANDOUT)

“I wanted to teach my children that they could make a difference. So I got involved in my community and started working with candidates and the Republicans.”

The filing deadline for the May 8 primary is Feb. 7.

Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, said the 43rd House district is about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and can be won by a Democrat like Foley.

“If he’s willing to get out and roll up his sleeves and work I think he can win it,” Owens said.

The district covers parts of Englewood, Clayton, Trotwood, western Montgomery County and all of Preble County.

RELATED: Ohio could have two redistricting proposals on ballots this year

County commission

Multiple people have pulled petitions to run for Foley’s county commission seat. Democrats include Montgomery County Treasurer Carolyn Rice and Daryl Ward, senior pastor of Omega Baptist Church in Dayton.

RELATED: Candidates seek to replace Foley on Montgomery County commission

Both Rice and Ward have turned in their nominating petitions.

Republicans include former Miami Twp. Trustee Bob Matthews and current Miami Twp. Trustee Doug Barry, both of whom have turned in petitions. Petitions have been obtained but not submitted by Greg Hart and Joshua Smith, both Dayton Republicans.

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

Kucinich enters governor’s race with call to “reclaim” the state, bring back Democrats who voted for Trump

U.S. Senate candidates Renacci and Brown spar over Trump’s comment about immigrants

Husted wants new voting machines in every county in Ohio

Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:43 AM

            The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.
The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

Fire Chief Scott Hines, the department’s only paid employee, resigned on Jan. 2 after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

“They left us with a skeleton crew,” Trustee David Crisenbery said this morning.

MORE: Safety questions raised about Caesar Creek marina

The township, home to about 1,500 residents, is on the south side of Caesar Creek Lake. The department handles emergency calls from the lake.

Since Hines’ resignation, fire and emergency calls are being handled by the remaining department along with mutual aid from fire departments in Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County.

The trustees are also weighing creating a joint fire district with Chester Twp. with new levies supporting the operation.

“That is the goal,” Trustee Daryl McKinney said.

MORE: Coach boating with daughter drowns in Caesar Creek Lake

A larger district qualifies for more grants, McKinney said.

The Massie Twp department operates on a $92,000 budget from two levies.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. to build $2.5 million fire station

Crisenbery said the township could seek an additional local levy to fund part-time paid firefighters. Also, Hines’ replacement could be picked, Crisenbery added.

“Anything’s possible tonight,” Crisenbery said. “All options, I feel, should be on the table.”

Hines said he was working with the Village of Harveysburg on creating a fire department, taking over fire and ambulance services within its municipal limits within Massie Twp.

He accused Trustee Mark Dawson of “micromanaging” him for more than two years.

“I just got tired of it,” he said.

Dawson said Hines was the subject of two internal investigations which provided 11 grounds for his removal.

“It is our responsibility to address the issues,” he said. “I call it doing the job we’re appointed to.”

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the township fire station, 10 N. Harveysburg Road.

Clayton pushing to make public more aware that golf club is city owned

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:04 AM

            The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Clayton officials are trying to figure out how to market a golf course and banquet space donated to the city three years ago.

City council will hold a workshop on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how to make the public more aware of Meadowbrook at Clayton, which includes a golf course, banquet center and swimming pools.

Meadowbrook was privately-owned until it was donated to the city in April 2015. Since then, the city has been trying to figure out how best to market the banquet space and golf course to the Miami Valley.

The workshop, in council chambers at 6996 Taywood Rd., is open to the public but no public input will be accepted at that time, said City Clerk Barbara Seim.

“This is just an ideas and information session, there’s no action item, no voting,” Seim said.

Meadowbrook staff will present to city council current marketing efforts as well as what they hope to do in the future.

“It’s great that they want our input,” Bill Williams, director of golf at Meadowbrook said.

After the workshop, members of the community can stay to comment or share ideas during the city council meeting that follows at 7 p.m.

The city is placing an emphasis on marketing Meadowbrook because many don’t know they have access to the golf course and banquet hall now, city officials said.

“We were private for so long that people don’t realize we’re public now,” Williams said.

Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC donated Meadowbrook Country Club, a 171-acre club, to the city. The property consists of a 65,000 square-foot banquet center, clubhouse, Olympic-sized pool, baby pool, driving range and 18-hole golf course.

Clayton City Manager Rick Rose has “really taken the lead” on promoting the Meadowbrook, according to Williams.

“Since it was a donation to the city, we didn’t have a department to take it over, so as city manager I’ve just taken it upon myself to make sure it succeeds,” Rose said. “We are a small city and it is a group effort of employees and elected officials.”

According to Rose in 2016, the first full year the city owned Meadowbrook, its revenues were $483,203 plus an additional $252,000 in transfers from the general fund. The following year’s revenues were $507,481. Transfers from the general fund were $162,480.

“In general, cities spend somewhere between 2 and 11 percent of their general fund budget to supplement their parks and recreation facilities. Clayton is on track to be in the five percent range,” Rose said.

Rose said the goal of the workshop is to discuss different directions the city could go with marketing. He hopes the change in marketing will increase direct revenues and lessen general fund transfers.

He wants to encourage the public to play on the golf course and get word out about all the different events the banquet center can be used for. The ultimate goal is to increase golf outings and rentals of the banquet center.

Meadowbrook currently uses social media for marketing but the city is hoping to “change it up.”

“We want to broaden our reach and put in the minds of everyone that (Meadowbrook) is open to the public,” Rose said. “Meadowbrook at Clayton is not just a golf course and banquet facility but also a place to hold public events and bring our community together.”

In addition to the marketing, the city is upgrading and remodeling parts of the building, another change they hope to finish this year..