PORT CLINTON Two Ottawa County commissioner seats are up for grabs on Tuesday.
Port Clinton City Councilman Linda Hartlaub, a Democrat, is battling Allen Township Trustee Mark Stahl, a Republican, to replace Commissioner Carl Koebel, who is retiring after 15 years.
Republican Commissioner Steven Arndt, seeking his sixth term, is fighting to remain in office against Democrat Debra Benko, also a Port Clinton city councilman.
At the top of each candidate s priority list is improving the local economy and job development.
Ms. Hartlaub, 54, who has served more than 12 years on City Council, said one way to attract new businesses is to improve quality-of-life issues, and beautifying Ottawa County by utilizing the county s waterfront and other natural resources is a way to do that.
She said she wants to develop more park board programs in the county, including the creation of bike trails.
That s not the ultimate solution, but I believe that s part of the picture, she said. We have to get the townships, the villages, and the city together to do that If you can provide that type of atmosphere, make our beaches, our parks, our water more accessible, you can get more businesses in your area.
Her opponent, Mr. Stahl, 46, who has served as a township trustee since 2004, is an accountant with a degree in business administration from the University of Toledo. Mr. Stahl is also a captain of the township s fire department.
If elected, he said, he would focus on running county government more efficiently as the poor economy causes tax revenue to dry up. He said he would encourage city, village, and township government entities to use the leverage of purchasing services together.
This allows the local governments to all purchase services together under one unit and leverage that power of quantity, he said.
As an incumbent county commissioner, Mr. Arndt, 54, said he already has several economic development projects in the works. He is asking voters to allow him to finish what he and the other commissioners started.
He said that over the last few years, the commissioners have worked diligently to create the foundation for alternative energy services as a major industry and employer in the county, working with a county-based company and researchers at the University of Toledo to create solar panels that were purchased by First Solar Energy.
We are coordinating all our businesses with the education community to be able to develop products and materials that can be incorporated into the global economy, he said.
But Mr. Arndt s challenger, Ms. Benko, 42, said a change in leadership may be needed to bring the county s job market into the 21st century.
Referring to Ohio Department of Labor statistics, she said the county has experienced eight straight years of private-sector job losses.
While I certainly applaud the efforts of the current county commissioners, I think we can do better and a lot more needs to be done, she said.
The county commissioner position pays $44,421 per year.
Ottawa County residents also will decide whether to raise their taxes with a 0.75-mill replacement levy to pay for increased costs at the county-owned Riverview Healthcare Campus in Oak Harbor, which is a nursing facility for seniors.
Kendra German, administrator for the campus, said the new levy would cost an estimated $22 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home, an increase of about $8 from the present 0.5-mill levy, which expires Dec. 31.
The new levy would generate $1.2 million annually for five years beginning in January.
As the utility, staffing, medical supply, and treatment costs continue to rise, we have not seen an increase in four years from the state, Ms. German said.
Put-in-Bay Township residents will vote on a 0.4-mill additional levy to pay for the increased cost of maintaining township cemeteries.
Ottawa County Auditor Jo Ellen Regal said the five-year operating levy would generate an additional $53,370 annually beginning in January and would cost an estimated $12.25 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home. The township includes South Bass, Middle Bass, and North Bass islands.
Matt Miller, chairman of the Put-in-Bay Township trustees, said there are four cemeteries that township groundskeepers maintain, and the present 1.5-mill levy, which was originally passed in the 1980s, only generates about $16,000 per year.
Last year, the cost to maintain the cemeteries was roughly $45,000 to $46,000, he said. We re woefully short on the cost to maintain those because they re on different islands and that kind of stuff.
Other local issues
Put-in-Bay Township Port Authority: 1-mill, five-year renewal for current expenses.
Put-in-Bay Township, Precinct PIB 1-5-E1: Local liquor license option, Sunday sales on premises after 10 a.m.
Marblehead: 2-mill, five-year renewal tax levy for current operating expenses.
Mid County Joint Ambulance District: 1-mill, five-year renewal tax levy for current expenses.
Genoa: 0.75-mill, five-year replacement tax levy for operating, maintaining, and improving village parks.