Belmont County commissioners turned an eye to future economic development during Wednesday's meeting.
The commissioners held budget hearings for 2013. County departments submitted requests totaling $20,047,064.90. A total of 14 departments submitted requests for an increase, while 17 requested less than last year. Six departments reported no net change.
In total, the budget requests sought an additional $281,819.28 over last year.
Commissioner Charles Probst Jr. noted total available funds came to $17.4 million and said the commissioners would work with each office to keep the budgets in line. Commissioners commended the departments on their performance in keeping within their means.
In other issues, Port Authority Director Larry Merry reported plans were being finalized for the purchase of the Armory Reserve Building in Bellaire for $205,000. It will be leased to MPR, which plans to extend a rail spur through it. The operation is expected to result in 60-70 new jobs in the county.
"This will give Belmont County one more area where we could put the railroad and the (Ohio) river together," he said, adding that he planned to initiate the purchase Monday and hopes to receive the deed soon after.
Larry Bayless, chief executive officer of Family First Senior Care, announced the launching of his new family effort to start an in-home non-medical senior care business covering five counties in Ohio and four in West Virginia. It will provide companionship, meal planning, incidental transportation, light housekeeping and other assistance.
He complimented the Belmont County Connections Office for its assistance in obtaining training and clients for his new business.
Commissioners adopted a resolution authorizing an application with the Ohio Attorney General's office to participate in the Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program. A.C. Wiethe of Bel-O-Mar Regional Council will act as the official representative of the county in applying for financial assistance for residential demolition in compliance with program guidelines.
The city of Martins Ferry is applying for $58,000. Barnesville is asking for $40,000; Bridgeport, $40,000; Bellaire, $30,000; and Powhatan Point, $30,000.
Commissioners also adopted a resolution declaring the necessity of levying a tax in excess of the 1-mill limitation and requesting the county auditor to certify the matter.
The issue would cover the Belmont County 911 Public Safety Emergency Radio Communication and Equipment Levy. Commissioner Ginny Favede noted a similar levy had been defeated in 2011 and voters had voiced concerns that it had been a continuous levy. She pointed out this was now a five-year levy. She noted the importance of 911 services to the safety of county residents and those traveling through the county.
Also, Favede was authorized to execute a Master Group Policy with THP Insurance Co. Inc. for health insurance coverage for eligible Belmont County employees for a period of one year commencing June 1.
Next week's meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday due to the July 4 holiday.