COLUMBIANA CO. Deadline for bills looms

Commissioners are postponing a request to appoint a member to a humane society board.
LISBON -- Columbiana County government is being told to pay delinquent bills or risk losing services provided by a multicounty juvenile justice system.
The Multi-County Juvenile Attention System has told the county it has until March 31 to pay $229,358 to bring its 2002 balance up to date, county commissioners said Wednesday.
The county has until June 15 to pay the $316,718 balance it still owes from last year.
Failure to make good on the debts will result in loss of services from the agency, which provides detention and counseling for troubled youths referred to it by juvenile courts.
Cash flow: With more time, the county could pay the nearly $546,076 it owes, Commissioner Sean Logan said after the meeting.
But cash-flow problems make it unlikely the county can meet the March and June deadlines, Logan added.
"It's not our reluctance to pay. It's our inability to pay," Commissioner Dave Cranmer said.
Cranmer said after the meeting that commissioners recently sent the agency $100,000, which should bring the total amount owed to about $446,076.
Columbiana County is one of six counties that are part of the agency. The others are Carroll, Wayne, Holmes, Stark and Tuscarawas.
Commissioners have noted that the debt to the juvenile agency is one of several key fiscal obligations the county's having difficulty meeting because of a lack of revenue.
Last week, commissioners placed a 0.5 percent sales tax increase on the May 7 primary ballot. If adopted, part of the increase is earmarked to pay the multicounty juvenile system.
Humane society: In other matters, commissioners decided to delay appointing a member to the Salem Humane Society Board.
Cranmer suggested waiting because questions remain regarding which of two similarly named organizations is most responsible for handling area animal welfare matters.
The Salem Humane Society won a court battle in December for rights to a trust fund to help pay for its efforts.
The loser in the contest was the Salem Area Humane Society, which says that even without trust fund aid, it intends to assist animals.
The Salem Area Humane Society also is appealing the court decision that awarded the trust fund to the other group.
Both groups have said they intend to build an animal shelter.
"You have two humane societies," Cranmer said, suggesting that both of them might want commissioners to appoint a member to their boards.

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