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State Sen. Sean O’Brien tours Ashtabula County during fact-finding mission


Infrastructure, lost revenue and improving business opportunities top the list of county needs

William A. West

ASHTABULA_State Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-32nd District, met with elected officials, business owners, industry management and others during his extensive tour throughout Ashtabula County Friday, Jan. 27. O’Brien started the day in meeting with Ashtabula County Port Authority, Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, County Commissioners, Casey Kozlowski, J.P. Ducro and Kathryn Whittington, Ashtabula City Manager James Timonere, members of the Lift Bridge Community Association, the Community Care Ambulance network, Ashta Chemicals and the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake.

State Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-32nd District

O’Brien and his entourage made Kosicek Vineyards and Harpersfield Vineyard their final stop of their information-gathering day.

Timonere, Harbor Perk owner Kelly Sposito, Briquettes Smokehouse owner Nate Rockwell, LBCA members and other entrepreneurs had an informal sit-down meeting with O’Brien in the third-floor meeting room at Briquettes. Timonere told O”Brien that he would like to see changes in the programs aimed at encouraging business growth in the state.
We can offer new businesses the world to locate or build here, but can do virtually nothing to help existing businesses stay or expand. This makes it difficult for the city and county to sustain growth.

Port Authority Executive Director Sean Ratican, Growth Partnership Greg Myers and 503 Corporation representatives expressed to O’Brien their concern about finding revenue for the increasing need to repair or replace the aging infrastructure in Ashtabula County.

The loss of its Medicaid-managed sales tax is a major worry for the county commissioners. Kozlowski said the county budget could face a $400,000 shortfall for the last quarter of 2016 and a possible $1.2 million loss of revenue in 2017.

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