The Seneca County Commissioners are now planning to demolish the 1884 County Courthouse. Today, Governor John Kasich released a letter to the media in which he wrote to the county commissioners and urged them to back off the plan. Of course, the Governor failed to include any check from the State to help pay for the cost necessary to fix the building to keep it usable. The Seneca County Commissioners said in response that they had every intention of saving the courthouse… until John Kasich’s budget took away the funds to save it.
From the Toledo Blade:
The board was moving ahead with plans for the nearly $8 million renovation earlier this year when the state legislature — at the governor’s recommendation — reduced local-government funding nearly by half. With the funding cut, commissioners said they could no longer afford to take on the $5 million, low-interest loan needed to finance the renovation.
You see, the courthouse has been vacant since 2004, and two of the county commissioners (a Democrat and a Republican) say that the cost of just maintaining a building they can’t use is too much of a drain on a county budget that is getting hammered by the recession and the Kasich budget.
Again, it’s not like there weren’t warning signs that this was possible.
Way back in March, the local media reported that Kasich’s budget would likely require the county to abandon its plan to save the old courthouse. Governor Kasich and his allies in the legislature did nothing to change the budget to make it possible for Seneca County to afford its plan to save this courthouse.
Not only did Kasich’s budget put Seneca County in a financial pinch with his cuts, but his popular sentencing reform increased the county’s expenses as the reform is nothing more than a big unfunded mandate on the local jail systems many inmates are being shifted to in lieu of prison:
Another issue facing commissioners is potential prison reform, which could force some inmates out of state penitentiaries and into local jails, reducing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners held at Seneca County Jail. It was reported the program brings about $2.5 million to the county each year.
“That alone could be the biggest negative impact on the general fund we have” Nutter said. “I’m not talking about small numbers – I’ve already said we’re going to lose ($1.4 million) in funding a year from local government – but the impact of local prisoners could be even greater than that moving into the future.”
So you can kind of imagine their frustration at Kasich’s gall to come in and politically grandstand on what in Seneca County is a somewhat popular issue (preserving the courthouse) when he is the figure most responsible for the demolition.
Heck, the Commissioner initially ok’d a resolution to seek bids for the demolition in August. So, just like with the exotic pet issue, Kasich is behind the curve in trying to control the damage of his own actions. Kasich has praised his budget as forcing bloated local governments to shed the deadwood and force them to innovate and modernize, to shake free from the shackles of tradition. If Kasich cared about consistently, he should embrace the demolition of the 1884 Seneca County Courthouse as a symbol of what his vision for Ohio has brought.
Own it, Governor. He should fly on his taxpayer-provided plane he’s been using to unsuccessful campaign for Issue 2 and personally push the plunger to dynomite the Courthouse into the ashbin of history. After all, the voters of Seneca County have voted down levies that would have paid for the county’s share to keep the courthouse. The taxpayers have spoken, according to KasichLand, it’s time to destroy the Old Bailey and Kasich should personally see to it. It’s his legacy.