Richland County courthouse

Richland County Courthouse

MANSFIELD -- Richland County dog owners will soon be able to purchase licenses for their pets online via a company used by 61 other Ohio counties, including Ashland, Crawford and Knox.

County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract with Fairfield Computer Services, based in Oakwood, Ohio, that residents can use to make the annual purchase required under state law.

County Auditor Pat Dropsey went over the program with commissioners and said a link to the dog license site will be found on the auditor's web page once it's operational in a few months, perhaps by late October.

The county receives about $350,000 through the sale of licenses, all of which goes to fund the dog warden and dog kennel, Dropsey said.

Under state law, new licenses can be purchased starting Dec. 1, though the auditor said his office works with residents who want to buy them earlier.

Those who choose to purchase the license online will pay $18 for the license, $2.25 for the vendor and $1 for postage.

"People can still come into the auditor's office or dog warden's office to buy the license if they want to save the $3.25," Dropsey said. "If you want to use the online site for the convenience, that's your choice."

He said residents who have purchased a dog license for 2020 will be able to find their name and information on the website when it's operational and simply renew it. Those buying a new license will need to fill out the online form.

The auditor said his office will be sending out postcards to license holders alerting them to options for renewing the license.

"We want to make it as convenient as we can for the people of Richland County," Dropsey said.

Since Dec. 1, 2019, Richland County has collected (to date in 2020) about $325,00 in license fees, according to the auditor.

In other action Tuesday:

-- Commissioner Marilyn John said a brief commissioners' meeting is planned for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. with Jodie Perry, president & CEO of the Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, to approve a plan to use $275,000 in CARES Act funds to provide up to $5,000 grants to businesses that meet eligibility requirements. Once the plan is finalized and approved, businesses will be able to apply for the grants online at the chamber website.

John said additional funds could be put into the project once the State of Ohio releases the money provided in the initial CARES Act passed in March. She also criticized the federal government for not taking action on another COVID-19 relief package.

"We are still waiting on a decision by the federal government," she said. "Congress is using it as a political football during an election year, so local governments are still suffering."

Funds from the initial CARES Act must be encumbered by Oct. 15 and spent by Dec. 31 in order to eligible.

-- Commissioners approved a request from several schools districts or schools to use Verizon Wireless as their mobile hotspot provider -- Clear Fork, Crestview, Lexington, Lucas, Ontario, Plymouth-Shiloh, Shelby, Shelby Sacred Heart and Shelby St. Mary's.

In late July, commissioners approved Tuesday spending up to $500,000 in CARES Act funds on mobile hotspots to help facilitate mobile learning in local schools during the pandemic. The only vendor selection at that time was T-Mobile/Sprint.

Since then, Verizon submitted a comparable price quote, albeit slightly higher. The districts and schools listed above believe they have wire coverage in their areas through Verizon and requested a change, which commissioners unanimously approved.

Commissioners also delayed a request from Mansfield City Schools to supply an additional 500 mobile hotspots, on top of the 200 already approved. Commissioner Tony Vero said district officials told him the additional units would provide coverage to all families in the district. Commissioners have asked the district to supply information on how many of the additional 500 are based on need.

"I can't believe there are households in Mansfield that don't already have internet," Commissioner Darrell Banks said.

Commissioners said they will revisit the request when the district supplies the requested information.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"