By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- The state has apportioned about $5.1 million to Columbiana County and its communities next year, but county officials are reserving some of it.
The county budget commission agreed Tuesday to withhold about $300,000 of the local government fund distribution in 2004, just in case the state decides to take back some of the money to balance its budget.
County Auditor Nancy Milliken, who also is a budget commission member, said money should be withheld from the allocation "just to be safe because we don't know what the state's going to do."
Allocating the money and then telling communities later in 2003 that they won't be getting as much as expected creates a budgeting nightmare, commission members said.
The officials added that a take-back in 2003 is possible because the state is still struggling financially and is expected to continue to do so next year.
State officials took back money from the county's 2002 allocation, pointed out members of the commission, which is made up of the county treasurer, auditor and prosecutor.
Local government fund figures for 2002 and 2003 are the same.
The county was allocated about $5.1 million for 2002, yet the state took back nearly $300,000 this year to deal with the state budget crisis.
If the state doesn't end up retrieving some of the 2003 allocation, then the budget commission will distribute the money toward the end of next year, Milliken said.
Local government funds are distributed annually by the state and shared among the county, townships, villages and cities.
The money is distributed based on a formula approved by the budget commission.
The formula for the 2003 local government fund distribution is still being assembled by a steering committee.
A new formula is expected to be in place by the end of the month, budget commission members said.