Last updated: August 24. 2013 9:13PM - 82 Views

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OTTAWA — Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik and Hancock County Commissioner Ed Ingold met with Putnam County commissioners Tuesday to explore ways to have a united front on finding solutions for the Blanchard River flood problem.Mihalik said she was not there to ask for funding from the commissioners, but questioned if they had considered looking for grants that could assist the county in costs related to flood mitigation. Ingold said he was he was hoping the commissioners, along with Findlay and Ottawa residents, would join the Hancock officials in approaching the Maumee Valley Conservancy about taking over the project once it has been determined by the Army Corps of Engineers.Ingold said that in Hancock County the 0.25 percent sales tax approved by Hancock County voters was sold to raise funds for flood mitigation and did not stipulate only Blanchard flood-mitigation projects. Findlay and Hancock County are in the midst of working out a cost share agreement, and Ottawa has been on board with providing some financial support, but the Putnam County commissioners recently said they would not be offering any financial support.Commissioner Vince Schroeder said they have always supported flood mitigation. He said the county has spent money on the Blanchard River Watershed for river clean-up, grass strips along the river, equipment and labor. Schroeder said county money has to be spent for the entire county, not just one project.Several visitors at the meeting said the flood had affected the entire county.Ottawa-Glandorf Superintendent Kevin Brinkman said they had to close down their school for four days.“We take in special-education students from all over the county,” Brinkman said. “This is one way the flood affected people from the entire county.”Resident Tony Imm commended Hancock County commissioners for being proactive on the flood issue by placing the sales tax on the ballot. Putnam County Auditor Robert Benroth said the Putnam County commissioners were being fiscally responsible and had taken an active part in flood mitigation, just not financially. He said they were not saddling future generations with a debt in the county.Imm said they county has to think how future generations would be affected if the flooding issue is not resolved.The Findlay mayor was quick to defend Ingold when Benroth questioned if the Hancock County commissioner had lost his bid for re-election because of the sales tax issue.“I have met with those who were elected and they are also very supportive of our flood-mitigation efforts,” Mihalik said. “I do not believe that was an issue.” Mihalik said she hoped she didn’t give the impression she was there to tell the Putnam County commissioners how to run their business. “I just want to move forward on this,” she said.

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