County Board Abates Late Fees and Penalties
At Tuesday’s Board meeting the Commissioners abated Property Tax Late Fees and interest penalties. The late fee will resume on July 15. This will apply to all properties except for those who escrow their property taxes. The Board believes that those who are able to pay their property on time will continue to do so. I supported this action by the Board to assist those people who have been adversely affected by the Stay at Home order.
The County Board is taking Responsible Fiscal Actions
The Commissioners reviewed the 2020 Budget and Projects that were scheduled to begin this year. Sales Tax revenue is estimated to decline by $2 – 4 Million, Charges for Services is estimated to decline $0.5 – 1.5 Million
To deal with the estimated decline in revenue and take responsible steps because of the uncertainty the COVID 19 episode has created, the County will put on hold projects that have not started and projects that have not been awarded contracts. This will include the approximate amounts:
- $5.1 Million on Park projects mainly at Oxbow
- $1.36 Million on infrastructure projects
- $1 Million at the Waste to Energy facility
- $765 Thousand in Computer replacements and upgrades
Estimated Revenue Loss: $2.7 – 5.5 Million
About $8.4 Million in total will be placed on Hold. In addition about 11 positions not currently filled will be frozen.
I support holding on projected that have not been started. Holding on projects is a responsible fiscal action in response the uncertainties that have been created by the COVID 19 economic picture.
Low Income Senior Housing Project to Begin this Spring
The Housing and Redevelopment Authority will enter into a Predevelopment Agreement with Center Street Housing so that Phase One of this project can begin sooner. This project will provide for about 48 units of low income housing on Mayowood Road. The predevelopment will include the construction of a water retention pond and other underground utilities. Part of the money for this project will be recouped when Center Street Housing receives its housing grants in September and the remainder when Phase 2 is begun. The County Commissioners also make up the HRA Board. I supported advancing the cost of the preconstruction so that his project will not have to be delayed for 5-6 months. The cost of the predevelopment is about $200,000. This money is part of the HRA funds which are separate from County funds.
Homelessness During COVID 19 Episode
During the Day 60-120 people have been housed at Civic Center and served by the Rochester Library Staff. At night 35-50 homeless have been provided with a safe place to sleep. Proper health protocols are being followed. Homeless who need to be tested are being transported to one of the testing sites. Meals for the homeless are being provided by a contract with Meals on Wheels. Families who are at risk are being housed at area hotels. One month expenses are being reimbursed by the State for about $148,000. Olmsted can apply for another month of expenses to be covered.
Caring for the homeless during the COVID 19 episode has be successful because of collaboration with the Rochester Library Staff and Catholic Charities. The county has provided cross-service teams to meet with the homeless to insure that they are receiving all of the services for which they are eligible. Several families and individuals have been relocated to permanent housing.
County Responses During the COVID 19 Difficulties
The responses to COVID 19 included but are not limited to:
- 1,000 food boxes have been delivered
- Diapers and other Infant needs have been delivered
- The County Food program is up 18%
- Emergency Shelter has been provided
- Child Protection is very active and insuring that Children are in safe homes
- Domestic violence incidences have increases.
- Clients on Probation are still meeting by distance with the Community Corrections
- People being served by Public Health are up; Currently it is about 26,000 people.
The County is planning on how to open services after the Stay at Home order has been lifted. The plan will take into account the need for Social Distancing and to protect the county workers from being infected. Please be aware that how the County provides services will be different than they were before COVID 19.