COLUMBIANA CO. Board Oks budget for 1st quarter



Commissioner Dave Cranmer bid farewell and said he may seek elected office again some day.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Columbiana County commissioners are taking a wait-and-see approach to 2003 county finances.
Commissioners adopted an $8.8 million first-quarter budget Tuesday and will wait until near April 1 to adopt a spending plan for the rest of the year.
The first-quarter budget includes appropriations to county offices that will allow them to operate without layoffs or cutbacks. But there is no money for non-essential equipment or supplies.
The austere spending plan for the first three months of 2003 will allow commissioners to get a better glimpse into next year's funding picture before adopting a budget for the entire year, the officials explained.
Sales tax
In particular, commissioners said they want to see how the county's 1.5 percent in sales tax is performing in the new year.
Collections just recently began on 0.5 percent of the 1.5 percent total sales tax. The 0.5 percent was imposed by commissioners in late June.
When a full-year budget is adopted, commissioners said they will try to accommodate departmental requests for items such as equipment, supplies and hiring.
Commissioner President Jim Hoppel noted that the first-quarter budget does contain some full-year appropriations.
Those include about $1.57 million for payment on county debt, about $1.1 million for the cost of belonging to a multicounty juvenile justice system, and $2.6 million for the cost of housing prisoners in the county jail.
Commissioners explained that regulations prohibit certain items from being budgeted quarterly.
Last meeting
Tuesday marked Commissioner Dave Cranmer's last meeting.
Cranmer, a Democrat, was defeated for a second term as commissioner in November by county Recorder Gary Williams, a Republican.
"This is the first time I was ever fired," Cranmer said, referring to his election defeat.
"I will most probably run for office again some time," he added. Cranmer did not say what elected office he might seek, but he noted that he has not ruled out another bid for county commissioner.
Williams resigned Tuesday as recorder so that he could begin his commissioner duties.
He's expected to join Hoppel and Commissioner Sean Logan at a special meeting set for 9 a.m. Thursday to appoint an interim recorder.
Because Williams is a Republican, the county Republican party will choose someone to finish his term, which expires in about two years.
Commissioners also will consider a proposal to annex to Lisbon about six acres in Center Township.
The property is north of the village, on the north side of Saltwell Road, east of state Route 45.
Property owners Kevin and Celeste Owens may try to develop the property, Cranmer said.

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