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TRUMBULL COUNTY Officials address department budgets



Published: Tue, January 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The budget hearings continue all week.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Trumbull County commissioners are in the process of dividing up county revenues, expected to remain flat this year, among dozens of county departments with changing needs.

Auditor David Hines has not yet prepared a formal estimate of county revenues for 2002, but he said he didn't expect them to change much from 2001.

"There won't be a big windfall," he said. "Where would it come from? I don't think it is happening."

Sales tax, property tax and fees all feed into the county's $35 million general fund.

Operating costs of most county departments and agencies, including the salaries and benefits for employees, come out of that pot.

"Basically, I am anticipating a status-quo budget," said Commissioner Michael O'Brien. "No pet projects."

Possible changes: Changes to department budgets discussed Monday included:

UCommissioner Joseph J. Angelo Jr. suggesting without discussion that commissioners could raise the county's hotel room tax from 2.5 percent to 3 percent, generating an additional $50,000 for the Trumbull County Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

The move would require only a vote by the commissioners, he said.

The bureau, which collects $349,000 a year from the room tax, would like to budget $125,000 for employee salaries.

Annual wages of the two bureau employees total $64,000, but the bureau intends to fill the director's position, which has been vacant for about a year.

UThe board of elections submitted a request for $924,000 this year, about $24,000 more than last year.

UThe department of jobs and family services requested $26.3 million, $3 million less than last year. The county's contribution to JFS is, by law, based on a formula that calls into account state and federal funding.

"This is not a growth agency," said Thomas Mahoney, the director. "We are getting more and more [clients] through the door and the funding is getting cut."

UThe domestic relations/juvenile court division is requesting $717,000 this year, $40,000 more than last year.

UThe county's Ohio State University Extension Service office is requesting $247,000 this year, $32,000 more than the agency spent last year.

The commissioners have until the end of March to pass departmental budgets for 2002.




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