COLUMBIANA COUNTY Communities to vote on allocation of funds
East Liverpool can count on getting less through the new arrangement.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- Townships, villages and cities in Columbiana County soon will be asked to vote on a formula that spells out how millions of state tax dollars presented to the county annually are distributed.
The area officials who are assembling the agreement are still working on its final form.
But it's expected that the new formula will provide a larger percentage of the so-called local government funds for most communities than they have received in the past, said Perry Township Trustee Jeff Hochadel.
Hochadel also is president of the county township trustee association and heads the committee assigned to develop the new local government fund distribution formula.
Whatever formula is decided upon will be applied to the county's $5.1 million 2003 local government fund allocation.
The formula committee's goal is to be as fair as possible in distributing the funds, which are key elements of many small governments' annual budgets, Hochadel said. With that in mind, the committee is devising a formula that bases distribution percentages on factors such as population and the community's fiscal need.
The committee consists of township trustees. They are receiving input on the matter from county, city and village officials, Hochadel said.
One community that will not be getting as much as it did in the past is East Liverpool, Hochadel said.
East Liverpool, the county's largest city, has for years received a nearly 27 percent slice of the local government fund pie. Other communities in the county argued that the city's share was unfairly large. But previous efforts to trim its cut were thwarted by East Liverpool.
State regulations give each county's largest city veto power over distribution formulas for local government funds. East Liverpool has used that veto in the past to strike down any plan that would reduce its 27 percent share. That changed earlier this year when a new state law was passed that is allowing East Liverpool's veto power to be removed.
It's under the terms of that new law, which takes effect Aug. 28, that a revised formula reducing East Liverpool's share is being presented.
Without East Liverpool's being able to veto the new formula, it's expected to be adopted, Hochadel said. The committee is still trying to determine what East Liverpool's share under the new formula will be, he added.
Early proposals called for the city to get about 4 percent of the funds. But Hochadel said he expects that number to be higher in the final plan.
He added that the new formula also is likely to reduce East Liverpool's share over several years to avoid creating a hardship for the city.
East Liverpool Mayor Delores Satow was unavailable to comment.
Voting on formula
Plans call for area communities to be asked to vote on the new formula Aug. 29 or Aug. 30, Hochadel said.
Communities representing 51 percent of the county's population of about 112,000 must approve the new formula. If they do, the plan must then be adopted by the county's budget commission, which is made up of the county auditor, treasurer and prosecutor.
The budget commission must approve the plan no later than Sept. 3.