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MAHONING COUNTY Commissioners await vote on funds from state



Published: Sun, February 16, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state Senate will consider the matter next week.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners have breathed a temporary sigh of relief. There is still life in the local government fund.

Now they'll wait to see whether it's still there after next week.

Commissioners were warned last year by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio to brace for LGF cuts when the state passes its budget this year. The budget will be for 2004 and 2005.

With state officials looking for ways to cut into a projected $4 billion shortfall, eliminating or reducing local government funds had been discussed as part of the solution.

Brad Cole, legislative coordinator for the CCAO, said Gov. Bob Taft had proposed cutting $30 million a year from the local government fund by withholding $10 million from distribution statewide in March, April and May of each of the two budget years.

But when the Ohio House passed the budget bill this week, it removed the $30 million LGF reduction, leaving the money intact, Cole said.

"That's good news," said Commissioner Ed Reese. "At least it seems to be moving the right direction."

On to the Senate

Cole said the matter now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for a vote Tuesday, followed by a vote of the full Senate on Wednesday.

He said the state commissioners association is lobbying the Senate to leave the LGF cuts out of the budget bill.

Local government funds are generated from several state taxes, such as sales tax, corporate franchise tax, use tax, public utility excise tax and personal income tax.

A percentage of that revenue is put into a kitty each year and distributed among Ohio's 88 counties according to population.

County budget commissions then distribute the money among townships, municipalities, park districts and public libraries according to a state formula.

The county itself usually gets the highest percentage of the money and uses it for general operating expenses.

Elizabeth Sublette, county budget director, has said the county got about $12 million in local government funds last year and expects about that much this year. According to the distribution formula, the county keeps about half that amount and distributes the rest.

bjackson@vindy.com




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