COLUMBIANA COUNTY Money woes increase

LISBON -- Already faced with a grim financial picture this year for Columbiana County government, commissioners have received more bad news.
Treasurer Linda Bolon told commissioners Wednesday that earnings on investments of county funds may be about $400,000 less this year than in 2001 when investments produced about $1.5 million in interest.
Bolon attributed the reduced earnings outlook to plummeting interest rates.
Interest rates in 2001 averaged about 5 percent, Bolon said. They stand at 3 percent.
Doing what she can: Bolon said she's doing all she can to maximize investment earnings within the stringent guidelines placed on governmental investing.
She added that she's going to be seeking the advice of an investment consultant to see if there's something more she can do.
The county is entering 2002 more than $800,000 behind on bills from 2001.
What's more, departmental spending requests for 2002 total about $16.7 million. But projected 2002 county general fund revenue, factoring in the reduced investment income, is about $12.4 million.
Commissioners are considering placing a measure on the May 7 primary election ballot calling for a 0.5-percent increase in the county's 1-percent sales tax. The increase would earn about $3 million annually.
Hearings scheduled: Public hearings on the proposed increase are set for 7 p.m. Feb. 11 and 9 a.m. Feb. 15. Both will be held in the commissioners' meeting room at the courthouse.
Commissioners appointed Michael Ryan of Wellsville to the Buckeye Water District trustees' board.
Ryan is filling a vacancy on the nine-member panel left by Jean Diddle, who is resigning.
The water district board oversees the agency's mission of providing water to parts of the county's southern portion. Nearly 10,000 customers are served by the district.

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