Belmont gets child support funds

T-L Photo/KAILEY CARPINO Commissioner Jerry Echemann discusses planned improvements for 911 services in Belmont County.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Board of Commissioners approved a contract renewal between the Belmont County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Belmont County Commons Pleas Court magistrate that caps administration of the enforcement program at $287,597.60 for 2024.

The Child Support Enforcement Agency handles all public assistance cases involving children not living with one or both parents.

Commissioner Jerry Echemann said 66% of funding for the agency is federal money with 34% as the local share.

Jeff Felton, Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services director, went into more detail about the agreement.

“Each year we have 40 contracts, typically with the prosecutor’s office and with a magistrate to be able to leverage some federal money to offset the costs for magistrate’s services, as well as their administrative assistant and operations and so forth,” he said.

Felton said the county could receive a reimbursement after repurposing the former law library in the Belmont County Courthouse into a magistrate’s court.

“With the renovations of the law library into the record room, we’re able to also claim some of those costs for renovation to get reimbursement in the feds’ match child support 66% federal and 30% local, so it’s a significant saving to the county,” he said.

Felton said that the federal reimbursement is a big help.

“So the contract itself, the total amount, anticipated expenditures, is a little over $280,000, and if we spend that much, we’re getting $189,000 back from the federal government, so it will cost the county roughly $97,000. So anytime we can do this, we don’t benefit as an agency directly. I mean, obviously, we benefit from the magistrate services and the court services, but it really does help the county. It offsets some of those expenses that could be borne or would be borne by the general fund if we didn’t have these types of contracts,” he pointed out.

Felton said he has been working to get the contracts approved ahead of the deadline.

“These contracts have to be approved by the end of March in order to claim January, February and March expenditures. So if we didn’t get to it until April, we couldn’t claim the first quarter expenditure. So we’re, I think, ahead of the game this year, at least when it comes to the magistrate services,” he said.

Commissioner J. P. Dutton said he appreciates Felton’s work and expertise on the subject.

In other news, the commissioners also all voted to approve a plan for changes to Belmont County 911 services. Echemann said the “centralized dispatch final plan” would help establish “Next Generation 911​.”

“Next Gen 911 would move the old, analog 911 circuits to a modern, digital IP-based infrastructure,” he said.

Echemann said the updated technology would make it easier for dispatchers to find callers’ locations and would also allow residents to text or video chat with dispatchers. He said the new technology will make it easier for county residents to communicate with emergency services and get the help they need.

More information about the new 911 services will be released once the upgrades are closer to completion.

The commissioners also unanimously approved purchasing a new vehicle for Senior Services of Belmont County for meal delivery. The 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with a built-in oven and refrigerator box will cost $71,743.

Echemann said the vehicle would be replacing an old one. He noted that the county has 11 daily meal delivery routes, so it has 14 meal delivery trucks – one for each route and three spares.

“They deliver about 1,100 meals per day, and there’s about 900 that are eaten inside the (senior) centers, so that vast majority go out to the people,” Echemann said.

The commissioners also all voted to approve a purchase agreement with Ponzani Landscaping Co. They approved $6,179.28 for new landscaping at the Belmont County Courthouse, annex building and Heritage Museum. Echemann said Ponzani planted all of the flowers in all three locations.

“We want the courthouse to look nice,” he said.

According to Echemann, the contract includes labor, equipment and materials as well as maintenance for one year.

Commissioners approved allowing three employees from the Department of Job and Family Services to travel from Aug. 18-24 to Las Vegas to attend the United Council on Welfare Fraud 2024 National Training Conference.

The commissioners also voted to allow Belmont County Treasurer Kathy Kelich to travel on March 12, June 11, Sept. 10 and Dec. 10 to Columbus to attend the County Treasurer’s Association Legislative Committee meetings.


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