I would like to address Marietta Estep's letter. I understand Mrs. Estep is unhappy because we didn't borrow millions of dollars to renovate the former 1884 courthouse, a plan twice rejected by the Seneca County voters; however, I am proud we had the courage to do what was necessary to protect our financial security. Regardless of what happens Nov. 6, Seneca County is in a better financial place because we did not allow special interest groups to bully us into a renovation plan that would have bankrupted the county.
As for the hours commissioners work, I don't know what her husband did for the 12 years he was a Seneca County Commissioner. Perhaps he only attended the weekly commissioner meetings. Knowing her husband, I suspect he worked as hard as I do, going to meetings, reading correspondence, establishing a course of actions that ensure our financial security. As Mrs. Estep knows, county commissioners spend many hours per week working on issues relevant to the county business, and from that work we have weekly meetings to publicly debate and discuss our positions with the other commissioners. Well, at least, that is how I have approached this position. I am proud of the work we have done as commissioners, ensuring the financial stability of the county for years to come by decreasing the more than $8 million in debt (that was left to us by past commissioners) by more than 50 percent. We have decreased recurring expenses without cutting vital services. All of this, mind you, during the greatest recession since the Great Depression.
In addition to creating and maintaining a balanced budget, we have managed to dedicate money to problems that have plagued Seneca County and its former board of commissioners for many years. For example: Our investment in the Seneca County jail has produced more than $14 million in revenue. We are building a juvenile center the county has desperately needed for more than 30 years. We are not borrowing any money for our $1.3 million portion of the $3 million project. Because of the way we have structured the project, we will recoup our portion over the next 20 year through efficiency savings and housing out-of-county children. In Bascom, we are constructing a sewer system that will improve health, safety and sanitation in the area while raising property values. Because of the hard work of many individuals, this $4 million project is receiving about $2 million worth of grants, making it much less expensive to the people affected by the project. All of these projects have been done without increasing the county debt.
Because we have kept our fiscal house in order, I would submit to Mrs. Estep that Seneca County has positioned itself to take full advantage of the economic upswing that is under way. As proof of this upswing, I would point to the expansion of businesses such as Taiho Corp. of America, Arnold Machine, Laminate Technologies, National Machinery, Tiffin Scenic Studios and Toledo Molding & Die that have recently or are currently expanding. At the commissioners' office, we understand that government doesn't create jobs; however, we create an atmosphere in which the private sector can create jobs and growth. We also understand that you accomplish this by lowering the public debt and implementing fiscally sound policies that do not require raising taxes to provide essential services.
I normally would not respond to a letter to the editor; however, Mrs. Estep may have misled readers into thinking the only thing we do as commissioners is attend our board meetings. As many people already know, I am always willing to discuss the county business and I am available seven days a week by calling (419) 447-4550. It has been my honor to serve as a Seneca County commissioner and I would be proud to serve again, if that is the will of the voters. If not, I will always be proud that Seneca County is better financially and economically than when we took office.