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DHS chief will direct CSEA work

County commissioners have appointed Department for Human Services head Buddy Martin to temporarily oversee operations and direct the workforce of the county’s Child Support Enforcement Agency – part of preliminary plans to merge the two agencies.

Friday, September 24, 1999

County commissioners have appointed Department for Human Services head Buddy Martin to temporarily oversee operations and direct the workforce of the county’s Child Support Enforcement Agency – part of preliminary plans to merge the two agencies.

Martin will make recommendations on either changing the CSEA’s organizational structure or privatizing operations, commission president Bruce Trent said at Thursday’s meeting.

Although a merger is still in the evaluation stages, recent discussions indicate it’s a proactive move, CSEA executive director Susan Brown said.

"Many of Ohio’s 88 counties have merged with DHS," Ms. Brown said. "We do so many cooperative effort type things, have a lot of common goals, and I think it would be beneficial to the county to pool resources. Our goals are the same – to make families self-sufficient."

The move is not a threat to any agency personnel, Ms. Brown said.

Trent agreed, adding that Martin’s appointment does not mean there is a crisis at the CSEA.

"It seems as though the trend is going to be combining the agencies and that might be an opportunity to improve efficiency," Trent said. "Martin is best-qualified to look at that and bring a recommendation back to us whether to preserve it as a county agency versus the advantages or disadvantages of privatization."

Also, an audit of the agency is ongoing, to make sure it’s providing the "utmost service" it can for child support clients, Trent said.

"That’s not to say it is not providing those services now, but with Mr. Martin’s assessment that will give us more of a picture of operations – to see where the needs are, if there are needs," he said.

Also Thursday, commissioners:

– Heard a report from Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton about a discrepancy in a juvenile court security grant fund.

A $23,000 line item was changed in August to about $18,000, according to auditor’s records, Walton said.

Any misunderstanding that might exist needs cleared up because juvenile court officials, who could not be present Thursday, need the full amount in that specific line item to pay current invoices, he said.

The money likely was split into several line items of the budget, and the county will work with the auditor’s office on the matter, county administrators said.

– Responded to requests and a petition to reduce the speed limit on County Road 70.

Speed limits are set by state authorities and the county engineer has reported a traffic crash study does not indicate the state would approve of lowering the speed limit, commissioners said at last week’s meeting.

Thursday, Trent said the commission realizes the 55 mph limit is too fast and dangerous and will seek further state help.

Resident Daisy Edwards said help was needed because development has increased traffic.

"There are a lot of people who exceed that 55 mph speed limit," Mrs. Edwards said. "There is no way they could stop if a child or elderly person stepped out into the road."

The county commission will write state officials to ask for a reduced speed limit and for caution signs, Trent said.

"We would rather be proactive in preventing accidents," he said. "We will do our best to encourage our state officials to allow a speed limit reduction."