MAHONING COUNTY Officials approve budget additions

The additions should stave off two potential lawsuits.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners approved budget additions to four general fund departments that should get them through this year.
The common pleas courts received $361,600; the county board of elections, $300,000; the county courts, $105,000; and emergency 911, under the Emergency Management Agency, $50,000.
The county budget commission in June amended the county's estimated certificate of revenues from $39.9 million to $48.9 million. The budget commission members are the auditor, treasurer and prosecutor.
Anne Marie Vross, the county's interim auditor, said Thursday that $7.3 million of the certification increase was refinancing debt payments to keep the county jail operating while under a federal court order to improve conditions.
Borrowing the future
Anthony Traficanti, county commissioners chairman, said in June that the refinancing means the county is borrowing against anticipated revenue from the sales tax passed by voters in May. He said the county hopes to pay off the debt in two years.
The other nearly $1.7 million increase comes from sources such as revenue generated by real estate taxes, sales tax from the last quarter of 2004, interest income, and final payments from the federal government for prisoners that were held in the county jail.
Vross explained that when the initial budget was put together, it was done with a conservative estimate of anticipated revenue.
Money can come in from other sources after the commissioners pass an appropriation, and when that happens, the budget commission can adjust the county's certification of revenues upor down, she said.
Holding off lawsuits
Judge Maureen A. Cronin, administrative judge for the common pleas court, said it was good news that the court has now received its full budget for 2005. The court had asked for $2.1 million but originally was given $1.75 million.
The allocation saves the commissioners from being involved in a lawsuit the court probably would have had to file to get its full budget.
The allocation to the board of elections also prevents another threatened suit.
Michael Sciortino, elections board director, and Thomas McCabe, the board's deputy director, said back in February the department needed at least another $300,000 to have two elections this year.
Meeting the request
Mahoning originally was not scheduled to have a countywide primary this year. That changed, however, when commissioners decided to put the half-percent sales tax on the May ballot.
McCabe had said in February that if the commissioners didn't come up with the money, a suit probably would be filed as a last resort to get the funds necessary for the board's expenses.
The elections board had requested $1.2 million for this year, but was allocated $900,000. With the addition, they now have their full request.
Colleen Ingram, court administrator/chief bailiff for the county's area courts, said the $105,000 addition will get the courts -- located in Austintown, Boardman, Canfield and Sebring -- through the year.
The $50,000 for E-911 will be sufficient to meet payroll for the current employees for this year, said Commissioner John A. McNally IV. The money won't be used to recall laid-off workers, he added.

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