New organization could be in place by January
Commissioners in Mercer and Auglaize counties took formal action Tuesday to create a joint organization that will focus on enhancing the water quality of Grand Lake.
All six commissioners signed resolutions giving a recently-hired law firm permission to file their application with the Secretary of State to establish the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Community Improvement Corporation (CIC).
The CIC will be designated as the leading, local nonprofit entity to receive and administer funds and oversee all projects geared for lake clean-up and its future health.
"As you all know, the CIC will serve as an interim entity … until we figure out how to handle such matters on a long-term basis," Scott Ziance, one of the group’s attorneys, said during a phone conference with commissioners on Tuesday.
Local politicians Ohio Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, and Rep. Jim Zehringer, R-Fort Recovery, urged the creation of a single organization to communicate with state and federal agencies and handle financial issues, Mercer County Commissioner Jerry Laffin said.
"They wanted just one body to deal with," he said. "We didn’t want a conservancy district, we didn’t like the idea of a port authority … this (the CIC) just made more sense."
The application to establish the CIC will immediately be filed with the Secretary of State’s office and then must be approved by the state’s Attorney General’s office. If all goes well, the new CIC may hold its first official meeting in early January, Ziance said.
The cost of filing the petition will be paid equally by both counties. The majority expense – $5,000 for the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease of Columbus – also was equally shared.
"After the first of the year, it should be up and running," he added.
All agreed that a CIC with county commissioners exclusively serving as its board, is unusual.