NEW CUMBERLAND – The Hancock County Commission on Wednesday agreed to seek declaratory action regarding the use of previous years’ levy funds set for the support of the Hancock County Animal Shelter.
The authorization, unanimously approved at a special committee meeting Wednesday morning, stems from a dispute over the use of funds from previous levies when the county animal shelter was overseen by the non-profit foundation. lucrative Hancock County Animal Shelter Foundation. The commission took over the full operation of the refuge in 2016.
Deputy County Attorney Mike Lucas said the action will focus on remaining levy funds from the 2008 and 2012 animal shelter levies and will not involve the 2016 levy as previously reported.
“This is what we think is the closest to a refund”, Lucas said, explaining that the plan was developed following conversations with officials from the state attorney general’s office, the state auditor’s office and various county offices.
In 2017, State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a notice that the unused funds should be returned to Hancock County taxpayers, noting that the foundation could no longer receive the money because it was not operating the shelter and that the county had made no provision for their use of the funds if the foundation was no longer involved.
Lucas said there was approximately $ 301,000 of unused tax revenue sought in the action, with the intention of using those funds instead of collecting the current lodging tax.
“The county would simply stop collecting the current tax,” Lucas said. “There is no double deduction by the county.”
Lucas explained that if the county attempted to reimburse these unused funds directly, it would require tendering the work to an outside agency and could cost the county more than the $ 301,000 sought.
Commissioner Jeff Davis, before voting, offered his support for the proposal.
“I think this is a fair way to deal with this without spending extra taxpayer money”, Davis said.
Commission Chairman Paul Cowey agreed, saying the important thing is to ensure the county animal shelter continues to receive support.
“It’s always about animals” said Cowey.
At the start of the meeting, Weirton resident Rudy Rosnick addressed the commission about the levy funds, accusing them of a lack of transparency on the matter and encouraging them to speak with the foundation and the public.
“It doesn’t have to be a confrontation” he said.
On Wednesday, the commission approved a request for $ 40,000 from New Cumberland Mayor Will White III to help replace water lines on Still Street and Brickyard Bend Road in the New Cumberland Heights area.
Davis explained that the town of New Cumberland had started a water line replacement project, but the prices were higher than expected, requiring additional funds.
“Still Street has a 2 inch water line that was installed decades ago. It’s almost completely completed. he said, noting that residents often have to call each other in order to coordinate the use of water in their homes.
The commission also:
• Approval of a contract with Edmiston LLC for grant writing services, at a cost of $ 14,500 for one year and to cover 20 grant applications. The proposal was tabled at the last regular meeting of the committee.
• Approval of a revised county coal separation budget for fiscal year 2021-22, with an addition of $ 4,000 from the 2020-21 budget carry forward.
• Approved a payment of $ 15,000 to Sheriff Joseph Gittings to serve as commission for the 2020 tax year.
(Howell can be reached at [email protected], and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)