Address: 6605 Germantown Road, Lower Salem.
Occupation: Washington County Commissioner.
Past Offices Held: None.
1.Commissioners have been asked to devote more of the one percent sales tax funds to road and bridge maintenance. Should more money be given for this purpose?
The commissioners recently worked with representatives of the Township Trustees Association to determine how to best address their needs. The reduction of state funds to townships has placed them in a challenging situation, especially with regard to maintaining their roads. Because of increased sales tax revenue for this year the commissioners allocated an additional $313,000 to townships, and are hoping to revise the distribution formula of the Permissive Sales Tax to allow more funds to go to townships. I am also exploring the notion of creating an "emergency reserve" fund for townships, allowing trustees to apply for financial support in times of emergency or when grant matching funds are needed. Township trustees have an awesome responsibility. I encourage them to regularly communicate with the commissioners, as we may be able to help them access grant funds, including Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).
One of the most significant and challenging duties of a county commissioner is working with the budget. There are certain state mandates that must be met and there are other critical services that are so important to our county such as providing good roads and bridges. As a result, I have taken the budget and the process very seriously, wanting to eliminate wasteful spending and focusing on the "must haves" for the county. The record shows I have been fully engaged in moving Washington County forward and would be honored to continue serving you.
2. What's the best way to move forward with the development of adequate sewage treatment facilities in the county without burdening homeowners or violating their rights?
It is critically important that our potable water be free from sewage and other contaminants. When the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency determines it isn't, they issue a directive to the county commissioners to develop a plan to correct the situation. The commissioners are required by the Ohio Revised Code to ensure the neighborhood complies with the Environmental Protection Agency orders. This usually involves installation of a "common" pipe, allowing homeowners to tap a sewer line into it. Once this is done the county is responsible for ensuring compliance with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and County Health Department Standards. As commissioners, we have been very successful in securing zero percent interest and low interest loans to build the system. This is very advantageous for the homeowners, as it lowers the total cost of construction and their tap-in fees. We have provided long-term payment arrangements for individuals and we have advised them of funds they may be able to access through other funding sources.
Also, the commissioners, the City of Belpre, and the City of Marietta recognize the mutual benefit that would be obtained by a cooperative effort in addressing regulatory obligations and achieving lower costs to the end users.
Wastewater issues are not new to Washington County Commissioners. In 2000 and 2004 the county had two studies completed: Wastewater Feasibility Study/Master Plan and a Comprehensive Plan. Both studies came up with the same results and recommendations.
As a Commissioner I will continue to seek out grants and other funding sources to help offset the costs to the end users.
3. What steps need to be taken to protect the area during the oil and gas boom and to ensure the best economic benefit? What should the commissioners' role in this be?
I live in a rural portion of Washington County and routinely travel our county and township roads and bridges. While I am keenly aware of the damage that can be done to roads and bridges by heavy truck traffic, I am also excited about the opportunity we have in "hosting" the oil and gas industry here in Washington County! The commissioners recently assembled an advisory committee to consider matters relating to the fracking industry, and I am working with them to accumulate appropriate information that can be distributed to area residents. Also, I supported the approval of a County Road Maintenance Agreement which the commissioners are urging the county engineer and townships to utilize.
I worked diligently to bring wireless broadband Internet service to remote parts of the county, as oil and gas companies will need those services that are not now available. I believe it is imperative that we not only protect from harm our roads, bridges, water sources, air, and soil, but that we also encourage and support the exploration and drilling to the extent that it provides economic gain over many years. In the past I stated I would support a tax or permit fee (impact fee) on large oil and gas producers and NOT on property owners. This would help offset the costs for the state hiring the additional field inspectors and doing the necessary testing to keep our water safe. Our county and townships cannot financially handle any more unfunded state mandates!