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COLUMBIANA COUNTY Officials OK borrowing $1.1 million



Published: Thu, November 1, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Layoffs and service reductions are expected to be averted by borrowing.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Columbiana County is borrowing about $1.1 million to help county government make it to the end of the year.

Commissioners approved the borrowing Wednesday in issuing notes that will be paid back at about 2 percent interest using future county revenues.

The county expects to have enough revenue coming in this year to cover most if not all of the bills that will be due.

But bills are coming in faster than revenue, necessitating borrowing, commissioners said.

Most of the borrowed money will go toward paying for prisoner housing, sheriff's operations, participation in a multicounty juvenile justice program, and providing attorneys to defend poor people charged with crimes.

Borrowing money will allow the county to maintain operations and services through the end of the year, commission president Dave Cranmer said.

Reason for shortfall: The cash shortfall is largely the result of commissioners' being forced to assemble a tight 2001 general fund budget.

The conservative, $12.1 million spending plan was necessary because revenue from the county's 1 percent sales tax, restored in November 2000, would not start coming in until April.

Also, commissioners knew they would receive about $2.5 million less annually because they promised to forgo 2 mills of property tax to induce voters to pass the sales tax.

Commissioners will meet in special session at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 27 to discuss a funding shortage facing the multicounty juvenile justice system to which Columbiana County belongs.

Agency officials have told the six member counties that nearly $1 million in state funding cuts to the agency may mean that the counties will have to pay more to belong to it.

Columbiana County's 2002 payment is expected to be $918,000, Cranmer said.

But that could go up if cost-saving measures the multicounty system implements fail to save enough money, he added.

Commissioners approved a three-year contract with Sky Access of Lisbon to provide a wireless Internet connection to the county by January.

Currently, county offices access the Internet over telephone lines, which costs about $6,600 annually.

The new wireless service is expected to cost the county about $3,600 a year.

leigh@vindy.com




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