Lima mayor, council, Allen commissioners discuss issues

LIMA — Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith and members of her administration and Lima council joined the Allen County commissioners for a roundtable meeting Wednesday in which they discussed updates to projects such as the aquatic center and improvements to Cable Road, efforts to stem the opioid epidemic and miscellaneous events.

Smith said afterward the meeting was an example of public officials working together.

“We all have the same goal as elected officials to make Lima and Allen County the best place to live,” she said. “And part of that is being able to collaborate and work together, but also community. Today’s meeting was important to update one another about what’s happening and hear a little about how we’re thinking about moving forward in terms of some of our community challenges.”

Commissioner Beth Seibert said commissioners met Tuesday to discuss appropriating money the county received from opioid settlements to projects.

“We didn’t feel like we were in a position to judge projects at that point,” she said. “Both (Lima Fire) Chief Heffner and I are on the Region 1 Ohio board, so we understand how complicated the whole process is with 19 regions in the state. It’s very complicated to get these dollars to a local entity so, for better or worse, we decided to give an even distribution of our about $199,000 to 10 projects.”

Seibert said she does not feel confident the projects will get funded at the regional level, but Heffner said they do not know what the state is going to do.

“We’re not even sure what path we’re going to travel,” he said. “If you’ve ever worked with the state, that’s pretty rough anymore, so we’re in a wait-and-see pattern.”

Seibert added after the meeting, “I think we covered a lot in an hour. But I think, as the mayor said, we’re very quick to reach out to her or department heads when we need information, and we need to have good, honest communications.”

Smith said meetings like these and communication behind closed doors fulfill her goals as mayor.

“We talk regularly on various issues,” she said. “The public may not be aware, but there are a lot of things that happen in our area where we have to work together. We jointly own the amphitheater and manage the parking garage, but we also have shared agreements with road projects and upkeep for bridges.”

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.