Change expected in Clinton County Legacy Fund’s spending policy

By Gary Huffenberger –

​WILMINGTON — The spending policy of the Clinton County Legacy Fund probably will be adjusted in order to cushion its grant dollars from downswings in the financial markets.

Commissioners voted in January to establish the legacy fund, which will have a start-up amount of $10 million to invest and generate ongoing income for grants that benefit the community and its residents.

The steward for the legacy fund — the not-for-profit Clinton County Foundation — has since suggested the change in the spending policy. The prior version of the spending policy stated that the awarding of grant money would be limited for any particular year to the net income from the previous calendar year.

But the proposed change, which had the support of commissioners Wednesday, would state that spending will be limited to 5 percent of the principal.

That is regarded as the industry standard and also is considered prudent by the State of Ohio, said the commissioners legal counsel Andrew McCoy of the Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office.

The biggest advantage, he said, is that it allows for the ups-and-downs of the economy.

So for any calendar year that follows a year or years marked by an economic downturn, substantive grant awards can still be awarded which may not happen under the original policy that was based on the net investment income generated during the previous year.

And of course when the economy is slumping is exactly when charitable grant dollars are most needed, McCoy pointed out.

Clinton County Foundation Executive Director Jan Blohm said once the new legacy fund has some history, then the spending policy guideline would state that spending will be limited to 5 percent of the principal’s average over the prior four years. That added condition serves to average out good and bad years, she said.

On Wednesday morning when the suggested change was officially presented, Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said he welcomes the change, and Clinton County Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods said she sees no problem with the change.

Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty said he was on the Clinton County Foundation Board of Trustees during the Great Recession.

“It was very frustrating to sit there when there was the greatest need and things were tied up,” said McCarty. He likes the “mechanism” of the adjusted spending policy.

A decision on the change may come the next time commissioners meet on Monday.

The $10 million start-up principal is part of the proceeds the county received from selling county-owned Clinton Memorial Hospital.

Also Wednesday, commissioners heard about a $4,000 Go-Green Grant that’s been awarded to the Main Street Wilmington organization via the Clinton County Solid Waste District. The purpose of the grant is to assist in the purchase of recycling containers to be placed around the downtown next to trash receptacles.
Main Street Wilmington will provide a $4,000 match to the grant dollars.

Commissioners also received the 2018 annual report compiled by Clinton County Job and Family Services (JFS).
In 2018, 670 cases of child abuse or neglect were opened. A hundred and thirty-one (131) children were placed in foster care, with the majority of those children having a drug component relating to their case, the report states. In addition, more children were placed with relatives and kinship providers.

The report states, “We are thankful to the community for the local support of services to abused and neglected children in our community. … The most important way Clinton County JFS’ Child Protection Unit serves these children locally is by maintaining a sufficient and well-trained workforce to provide the mandated services that these children and their families need.”

According to the JFS report, it is important to note that Clinton County JFS cash assistance benefits are almost 100 percent received by relatives caring for children.

Food and cash recipients are part of employment and training programs which promote self-sufficiency and include work requirements, the report states.

Monthly Medicaid participants in Clinton County number approximately 11,000 people.

“As the public workforce development agency, counties are responsible for maintaining and forging new relationships with area employers and ensuring the availability of a ready-to-work population. Counties work with employers to do employee recruitment and screening and identify in-demand occupations. Counties also assist dislocated and low-income workers who need short-term, non-recurring assistance to find and maintain employment and can assist individuals with the training or retraining necessary to ensure them a place in the labor markets of today and tomorrow,” states the report.

In the Clinton County JFS’ Ohio Means Jobs office, over 400 new customers and over 2,500 total were served at the agency during 2018. In 2018, 320 open job interviews were held, and 180 individuals were hired with 15 employers participating.

Self-sufficiency and work supports are always a Clinton County JFS goal, the report states.

“Our Clinton County JFS child care program served approximately 170 families and currently licenses 7 child care providers and is an important work support,” according to JFS.

The goal of the Clinton County Non-Emergency Transportation Program is to ensure that individuals receiving Medicaid get safe, reliable and efficient transportation for medical appointments, the report adds.

This program provided 1,782 trips for medical appointments in 2018. These trips included those for children and adults to local and surrounding area providers and trips to mental health and drug treatment facilities.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.