Last updated: August 08. 2014 4:35PM - 510 Views
By - shalasz@civitasmedia.com

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XENIA —Concern over the Regional Planning and Coordinating Commission of Greene County’s budget led to a 2-hour work session and a parade of trustees and administrators defending the executive director Thursday.

During the session following their regular meeting, commissioners took Executive Director Steven Anderson to task for what they called lack of planning as the RPCC is projected to run out of funds sometime in October. And as the executive committee ponders the 2015 budget, commissioners insisted the RPCC start trimming the fat from an already-lean ledger.

“We had basically asked over the last couple years that you do a review of some of the costs of some of the services you provide,” Commission President Bob Glaser said. “As a manager of a department, you have to make sure as a department your (expense) doesn’t exceed your income. You haven’t done that. You’ve just marched merrily along to the precipice. GCRP will run out of money if you don’t change things.”

Executive committee member Tom Pitstick tossed some of the blame back at the commissioners, saying for the past three years a decision was made to cut funding “contrary to the by-laws.” A memorandum dated July 15, 2014 indicates the 2014 approved RPCC budget identified the per capita for Greene County at $178,134.23, but the commissioners budgeted just $85,344. They funded RPCC by approximately the same percentage of the per capita in 2012 and 2013.

According to Acting County Administrator Brandon Huddleson, previous county administrator Howard Poston interpreted the formula for the county’s contribution to include only participating jurisdictions. When Beavercreek and Fairborn pulled out of the RPCC a few years ago, the county contribution was reduced by the population of those communities, Huddleson said via email.

Pitstick said there is nothing that can be cut from the budget other than a staff member. If that position was cut “you wouldn’t have regional planning,” he said.

One proposed budget actually calls for an additional staff person as well as contribution increases of up to 122 percent for many county jurisdictions and large increases for developers as well.

But what commissioners wanted to see — and what Anderson and the executive committee agreed to do — is to come up with the best possible plan and budget they can.

“We haven’t tried yet,” Commissioner Tom Koogler said. “We do that and you need more money, you’ve got my vote. Commissioners should step up to the plate.”

The sides agreed to reconvene in about a month and see where the budget stands.

Before that, however, representatives from the jurisdictions made it clear eliminating the RPCC was not an option.

Bath Township Zoning Commissioner Mark Smith said he has “on the job training” and “I couldn’t have done it without Steven and his group.”

Long-time Beavercreek Township Trustee Carol Graff implored the commissioners to make sure RPCC survives past the projected date it runs out of money.

Miami Township Trustee Chris Mucher was perhaps the most vocal.

“Regional planning has been cut more than any,” he said. “All you talk about is cutting services. I think that’s abhorrent. It’s been cut. This is the bottom.”

Some of the services provided by Anderson and his staff person are required by the Ohio Revised Code including preparing/updating plans and development regulations; promoting and implementing the adopted policy documents; provide planning assistance to other units of local government, subdivision review and annexation petition review.

However RPCC also provides a plethora of activities — more than 50— not required by the state. Those above and beyond services concern the commissioners, but they are what makes the jurisdictions appreciate Anderson.

“It’s a resource,” Beavercreek Township Trustee Dan Paxson said of the RPCC. “There’s the reason his list is so long, because he provides excellent service.”

Scott Halasz covers Xenia and Greene County for the Gazette. He can be reached at 937-371-2517

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