TRUMBULL COUNTY Planning panel wants to be paid

County commissioners aren't very receptive to the idea.
WARREN -- The volunteer members of the Trumbull County Planning Commission are considering voting themselves a paycheck.
"I don't mind spending my time here, but I think a little compensation would be a gratuity," said Lewis Kostoff, who said he drives 20 miles each way to preside as chairman. He proposed giving members $25 for each board and committee meeting they attend.
Board meetings are conducted monthly and there are committee meetings every month, said Gary Newbrough, the commission director.
The planning commission comprises eight appointees and the three county commissioners. Newbrough estimated the pay would cost the planning commission about $3,300 a year.
In a letter to other members, Kostoff wrote, "After informal discussion with other planning commissioners on the issue of compensation for attendance at meetings, a consensus to pursue this issue has been achieved."
Ohio law: The Ohio Revised Code does not permit planning commissioners to be paid a salary, but it does allow them to be paid for expenses. The commission could move on the measure itself, calling for payment to come out of commission funds.
"When we get done with the Girard leather works, maybe we'll do something about it," said James G. Tsagaris, a county commissioner, referring to a cleanup effort that has gone on for years and is likely to stretch on for many more.
He encouraged other planning commissioners to delay bringing the proposal to a vote.
County Commissioner Michael O'Brien said he's concerned that a precedent will be set. None of the many boards appointed by county commissioners is paid.
"This is one of probably 18 boards that we appoint," he said. "This is an active board, and I applaud the effort that is spent, but at the same time, the boards of the port authority, children services, Fairhaven, also result in a positive effort for the county with an extraordinary amount of work."
Filling vacancy: The county commissioners typically must choose between a half-dozen applications to fill a vacancy on any one of these boards, he said.
The planning commission has not had difficulty getting a quorum at its meetings since a new attendance policy was adopted last year, Newbrough said.
The policy calls for the dismissal of planning commissioners who miss more than four monthly meetings in a year.

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