The county's tight budget is being blamed for the debt.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Columbiana County commissioners say they will try to pay an overdue bill that's jeopardizing the county's future participation in a juvenile treatment and detention program.
Representatives of the Multi-County Juvenile Attention System met Wednesday with commissioners to discuss the nearly $714,000 the county owes the agency.
Also present was Judge Thomas Baronzzi of the county juvenile and probate courts.
The money owed the agency is part of a nearly $900,000 bill for services the Canton-based agency provided this year to troubled youths sent to it from Columbiana County.
If the county fails to pay off the debt, it could jeopardize its being allowed to use the agency in the future, Judge Baronzzi said.
He urged commissioners to try to find the money.
"We have to pull our weight," the judge said. "We can't afford to lose access" to the multi-county agency.
"As soon as we can get the bucks, we'll pay you," Commissioner President Dave Cranmer told Donald Thernes Jr., multicounty superintendent.
To make payment: The county expects to make a nearly $70,000 payment on the obligation in the next few days, Cranmer added.
Commissioner Sean Logan said the county's overdue debt to the agency is embarrassing.
Commissioners blamed the county's strained budget.
County finances are still strained from the loss of the 1 percent county sales tax, which voters scrapped in May 1999.
Voters restored the tax in November 2000. But revenue from it didn't start arriving until April, meaning less tax revenue this year.
General fund loss: The county also lost about $2.5 million from the general fund budget because commissioners promised to reduce property taxes by that amount if voters restored the sales tax.
The county's 2002 payment to multicounty will be about $918,000. Besides Columbiana County, the agency is made up of Carroll, Wayne, Holmes, Tuscarawas and Stark counties.