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Amendment ‘devastating’ to program

A proposed amendment to the Ohio Revised Code would hamstring the county’s Neighborhood Investment Program, says county treasurer Stephen Burcham.

“That would be a devastation to our program,” Burcham told the Lawrence County Commissioners at their Thursday regular meeting.

Right now a proposed section in House Bill 459 and Senate Bill 287, which are before the Ohio Legislature, would prohibit county treasurers from being the sole purchaser of bonds issued by governmental entities in their county. That has been the basis of the county’s neighborhood program where Burcham has purchased more than $5 million in bonds since its inception in 2011.

“I am writing a letter to oppose hamstringing our efforts to be responsible to our citizens,” he said.

Through the program Burcham has purchased bonds from villages, school districts and the City of Ironton at an interest rate less than what they would have gotten at a bank, but more than the rate the county would get on its certificates of deposit and commercial papers.

“Is there a banking lobby responsible for (that prohibition)?” Commissioner Bill Pratt asked.

Burcham responded that he was not sure why that restriction was part of the legislation.

Through the program Burcham has purchased 18 bonds — six from townships, one from a village, two from schools, two from Ironton and seven for commission projects. Police cruisers, EKG monitors, classrooms, an HVAC system and road equipment are among the purchases made through the program.

Burcham asked the commissioners to join in writing a letter of opposition. Commission President Les Boggs said he would like to see a copy of Burcham’s letter to study first.

In other action by the commissioners:

• Received an opinion from assistant prosecutor Mack Anderson that the county dog warden is required to enforce laws anywhere in the county;

• Referred to Tim Porter of the Union-Rome Solid Waste District a request from Kenneth B. Riley that a sewer grinder pump control panel be removed from his house at 101 Township Road 1119, Chesapeake;

• Appointed Rob Callaway and Mike Boster to the Lawrence County Planning Commission for a three-year term;

• Received the weekly dog warden’s report where one dog was destroyed, 15 were adopted or sent to rescue and two were redeemed by their owners.