MOUNT VERNON — The county board of commissioners continued to hear end-of-the-year reports Monday with a summary from Clerk of Courts Mary Jo Hawkins and another installment from Matthew Kurtz, interim director for the Knox County Department of Job & Family Services.
Kurtz met with the commissioners Monday morning to review Kurtz’s 2009 Workforce Unit Report. The Ohio Workforce program, formerly known as ADC, is a program where unemployed persons receiving public assistance are required to do a certain number of hours of public works.
Kurtz noted that one key part of the Workforce Development Unit is the Work Experience Program, where clients receive work training. Thanks to federal stimulus money, Kurtz said, much training was done in 2009, resulting in a 33 percent increase over 2008. But Kurtz noted two big problems.
“We don’t have enough work sites and supervisors,” Kurtz said of the overwhelming demand.
He said what worried him even more was that the job training for standard areas might not help the clients as much as it is supposed to help them.
“We’re training people for jobs we hope are there,” Kurtz said.
Thus far, he said, the national economic stabilization has not led to new jobs in central Ohio. Kurtz pointed out that the JFS didn’t even hold a job fair this year, because it seemed a pointless exercise when virtually no one is hiring.
Kurtz noted the employees losing high-paying industrial jobs in particular are meeting the stressful situation that there simply aren’t any jobs like that available elsewhere. He said the JFS now employs a social worker to help dislocated workers make the adjustment from high-paying job to whatever is available.
Hawkins met with the commissioners Monday afternoon. She said the total number of cases filed in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas in 2009 had virtually doubled in the previous decade. The total number of cases filed in 2001 was 765, compared with the 1,435 cases filed last year. Criminal cases showed a slight decline from the 2007 peak of 195 to 185 in 2009. Appeals filings were down as well.
Domestic relations cases have gone up and down. Civil cases, however, she said, have been skyrocketing, from 378 in 2001 to 776 in 2009.
Vehicle titling has declined steadily from a peak of 31,523 in 2002 to 19,693 in 2009.
Hawkins said 2009’s figure might look outstanding compared to what it will be next year. Her department received unofficial word Friday that Donley Ford was moving all titling to its home office in Ashland in order to centralize operations.
“That will be a huge loss,” Hawkins said, explaining that over 500 titles per month were business from Donley Ford. This could amount to a loss of anywhere from a quarter to a third of the title agency’s business, she said. Hawkins said she would almost certainly have to reduce employee hours as a result.
Hawkins said further meetings need to be held to finalize plans to renovate the offices on North Sandusky Street shared by the title agency, the bureau of motor vehicles and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Although relocation had been discussed in the past, all parties have agreed to try and renovate the existing facility.
The commissioners said that before making a resolution, they would have counsel review a statement of intent to commit to working on the current facility. They expressed concerns about a meeting last year in which the facility landlord, Tom Sutton, promised to redo the front doors of the office complex within 10 days of the meeting. The work was carried out about 10 months after the meeting, said Commissioner Allen Stockberger.
In other business, sales tax figures have continued to sag from last year, although they aren’t dropping as sharply as the figures did from 2008 to 2009. In 2008, the county’s sales tax income was $337,077.70. In 2009, the figures fell to $307,853.85. This month, the tax income slipped to $303,632.26.
Stockberger said another snag has arisen in the plans to start a new housing development in the undeveloped parcel of land within the Apple Valley community known as The Reserves. After approving a developer’s plan to put one master water meter on a large portion of the development, the commissioners discovered an Environmental Protection Agency regulation which prohibits putting more than 15 homes on a master meter.
The current plan for The Reserves would have placed 50 two-unit condominiums on a single master meter. Stockberger said the commissioners and developers will be studying ways to reconfigure the system to deal with the regulations.