Union County Commissioners met for the first 2020 meeting Friday morning, Jan. 3.

First meetings of the year are dedicated to reorganizing and taking care of leftover items from the former year and delving into issues with the current year.

Paul Wiwi and Tim Williams were reelected as commission president and vice president, respectively.

With that done, they began to tackle the business at hand. One of the subjects for the day was something that was from 2019: dispatchers. Liberty Town Council president Matt Barnhizer and vice president Keith Hall met with the commissioners at the commissioners first Dec. 2019 meeting to discuss the town's funding of dispatching.

The town puts up 25 percent of the cost of the dispatchers. Barnhizer and Hall said they would like to see  county council hire a sixth dispatcher and increase the dispatchers' pay in an attempt to keep the department from having a revolving door. Some people said the dispatchers are trained in Union County and then go to surrounding counties to work for higher pay. Others said it is not the reason so many dispatchers leave after being trained.

At county council's last meeting in Dec. 2019, there was not a quorum of members where decisions could be made, but the members, who were present, talked about different subjects including the dispatchers.

Council members, who were present at the 2019, meeting said they could go along with hiring a sixth dispatcher, but they did not agree with giving a pay increase because dispatchers received pay increases more than the other county employees in the recent past.

“Richard said he thought that was a good move (hiring the sixth dispatcher),” Williams said about Richard Blank, the council president. “I told him Jenny (Brown, dispatcher supervisor) already has the schedule made up (for a sixth dispatcher).”

Williams said the county paid more than $30,000 in 2019 in overtime pay due to the lack of dispatchers. 

According to Williams, he understands town council's perspective in this situation, especially since the town has been paying 25 percent of the dispatchers' costs.

In other business, the commissioners: 

*Discussed the Wayne Union Randolph Solid Waste District. Currently, Union County pays $6,000 to the organization. Wiwi said it is his understanding Randolph County pulled out of the agreement leaving just Union and Wayne counties.

“I don't know what we're getting for our $6,000,” Wiwi said.

Auditor Cheryl Begley said her understanding the money Union County pays goes to the director's salary. 

Commissioner Howard Curry instructed Begley to send a letter to have a WUR representative come to a commissioners' meeting and discuss what the county gets out the money it is spending.

*Reappointed Dr. James Hayes to the Union County Health Board.

*Approved the bid of $75 per acre for a 4.71-acre tract of farm ground at the county farm. The bid was the only bid and was made by Matt Barnhizer. Another bid opened in December was removed by the farmer who placed it.

*Approved an agreement with Preble County, Ohio over three bridges on State Line Road near College Corner. Preble County takes care of two of the bridges while Union County takes care of one of them.

*Approved an understanding to use My Choice with PERF, the retirement account for governmental employees. Employees who have already retired and then come back to work are not eligible to add to their PERF accounts. With My Choice, those employees can get all the money they put into the account, but just 20 percent of what the county adds to the account. 

UC attorney Jim Williams will be contacted to see if there is a way employees in this situation can get all of the money back.

*Heard from Jeff Mathews. He was talking about the Nuisance Ordinance. There is a member or two on the Nuisance Board who have been under the weather. However, there are several properties that are on the list to be contacted. He said a certified letter will be sent to the properties in question and then after a certain amount of time, county employees,  and equipment will go to the site and clean up the properties, and taking the debris to the county landfill. The cost for the operation will go on the property owners' property taxes.

*Approved a bid from Appraisal Research for $18,500 on a two-year contract. The company helps with the annual reassessment adjustments. The dollar amount is unchanged since its last contract with the company.

*Begley said costs for drug testing employees will go up slightly this year.
Commissioners next meeting will be 8:30 a.m., Friday, Jan. 17.