LISBON - Columbiana County commissioners have received an additional $27,823 from the state to continue demolishing dilapidated and abandoned homes.
The money is in addition to the $530,000 received last year through the Ohio Attorney General's Office and used to demolish 49 homes to date, with another 23 homes scheduled to be razed this spring.
The money represents a portion of what Ohio received as part of a nationwide settlement reached with five mortgage companies sued by states for fraudulent and deceptive lending practices. A portion of the settlement was earmarked by Attorney General Mike DeWine for counties to demolish dilapidated and abandoned homes. The county received $500,000 initially in 2013, and an additional $30,000 later, which was matched by $30,000 provided by commissioners, bringing to $560,000 the total committed to date.
County Development Director Tad Herold said the extra $27,823 represents money left over from 2013. "The first time around not everyone could use every bit of the money they were given," he said.
Herold expects the money will enable them to demolish another four or five homes, depending on the cost. He intends to recommend commissioners ask each city, village and township in the county to submit one or two additional homes they would like see demolished. Unlike the last time, when each community was guaranteed the first five homes on its list would be demolished, commissioners will have to decide which ones are razed.
"There's no way we can give another property to each community (to be demolished). My suggestion would be to let's do the high-priority, low-cost properties," Herold said.
As mentioned above, a combined 49 homes have been demolished to date in Columbiana, Leetonia and East Palestine plus Butler, Center, Knox, Liverpool, Madison, Middleton, Perry, Salem, St. Clair and West townships.
Commissioners recently signed the contracts to begin demolishing another 23 homes with the remaining $560,0000. These homes are in East Liverpool, Hanoverton, Salem, Salineville and Wellsville.
The contracts are with Stan Cunningham Excavating, which will demolish 14 homes for $54,870, and Extreme Demolition, which will demolish nine homes for $42,400.
Neither contracts have been run through a commissioners' meeting for approval, which was pointed out by the Morning Journal after learning the contracts had been awarded.
When told of this, Commission Chairman Jim Hoppel said was an oversight on his part. "I thought it had been done. We talked about doing it, but we didn't officially do it," he said, adding the contracts would be approved at its Feb. 12 meeting.
The commissioners have fallen into the habit of not running some contracts through their meetings despite the Morning Journal's objections, saying they are not required by law to do so.