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MAHONING COUNTY Commissioners seek airport funds



Published: Thu, April 17, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Commissioners Ludt and Sherlock said the county can't afford $185,000.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners David Ludt and Vicki Allen Sherlock said they'll be happy to talk about funding the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport but aren't ready to agree to it.

Commissioners were expected to consider a recommendation today to appropriate $185,000 to the Western Reserve Port Authority, payable in three equal installments.

County Administrator Gary Kubic said Commissioner Ed Reese wanted the item on the agenda for discussion, since Trumbull County commissioners recently awarded a total of $185,000 to the port authority, which operates the Vienna Township airport.

Reese, chairman of commissioners, was out of town Wednesday and could not be reached to comment.

"Just because it's on the agenda doesn't mean it's going to be approved," Kubic said. "We just need to get some discussion going and see what direction we're going to go with this issue."

He said commissioners could decide to pay less or to pay nothing at all.

Here's the situation

The two counties have historically provided equal shares of funding for the airport each year, to help offset its operating costs.

Last year, Mahoning commissioners said they could not afford to fund the airport this year because of dwindling finances.

Ludt said his opinion hasn't changed.

"I think we're about to the point where we should be funding only mandated services, and we should freeze the wages of general fund employees," Ludt said.

He said if Reese wants to fund the airport, he'll have to show that there's money available without making further budget cuts, especially to services like 911.

"Tell me where the money is," Ludt said, adding, "Where is it going to come from?"

Sherlock said she understands the airport is a vital facility for the local economy, but, like Ludt, she isn't sure the county has money available to fund it.

Before she decides, Sherlock said commissioners should meet with Auditor George Tablack and get his opinion on where the county will be financially over the next two years.

"I think it would be prudent for us to work closely with the auditor on this issue," Sherlock said.

bjackson@vindy.com




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