MAHONING COUNTY Officials approve measures for levies

Officials approved more money for the clerk of courts office.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County residents will see four countywide levies on the November general election ballot.
Commissioners at their Thursday meeting passed resolutions approving levies for the children services, mental health, mental retardation and developmental disabilities, and the Youngstown-Mahoning County Public Library boards.
Even though these agencies and the services they provide are outside the general fund, by law the agencies must get approval by the commissioners to put their levies before the public.
Serving our families
Denise Stewart, executive director of the CSB, said a recently completed performance audit of the agency's work recommends the 0.85-mill renewal levy for a five-year period.
Joseph Gorman, representing the mental health board, said the board's 0.50-mill levy for five years is crucial to maintaining the treatment programs that are working for those with mental health problems.
Frank Santisi, vice president of the MRDD board, said the 3-mill renewal levy for five years "will enable us to continue to serve our families." He emphasized the renewal means no new taxes and the levy will raise $11.4 million a year. The levy generates about half of the MRDD's yearly budget.
Larry Duck, MRDD superintendent, said the levy is needed more than ever because of the loss of Medicaid reimbursement funding from the state.
Carlton Sears of the library board explained the 1-mill, five-year replacement levy would be used for general operations.
The levy is a replacement of the 0.6-mill levy, first placed before voters in 1976, and includes an increase of 0.4 mill, so property taxes would rise if the levy passes.
Mill valuation
One mill amounts to 10 cents for each $100 of valuation. Valuation is roughly 33 percent of a home's market value, library officials have said.
The current 0.6-mill levy expires at the end of the 2005 tax year.
Sears said 85 percent of the library board's income comes from the state. The library board estimates that if the levy passes, it could raise $3.4 million.
In other business, the commissioners approved budget additions for Clerk of Courts Anthony Vivo's operations in the county and common pleas courts.
Vivo said the money allow him to complete operations through this year, and doesn't include pay raises. Money from the clerk's budget goes to pay rent and utilities for county courts in Austintown, Boardman, Canfield and Sebring. Vivo also provides staff for those courts.
Commissioners amended the clerk's budget for an additional $459,144.
In June, the county budget commission amended the estimated certificate of revenues commissioners can appropriate from $39.9 million to $48.9 million.
Nearly $1.7 million in increased revenue comes from sources such as real estate taxes, sales tax revenue from the last quarter of last year, interest income and final payments from the federal government for prisoners that were held in the county jail.
The other $7.3 million came from the county refinancing debt payments to keep the county jail operating.
Teamsters pact
Commissioners also accepted one version of a fact finder's report concerning a new, three-year pact between the county engineer's office and Teamsters Local 377, but rejected another version of that report that had corrections made to it.
Local 377 represents 70 members in the engineer's office.
County Engineer Richard Marsico said the first version had some things in it beneficial to the county and within reason of the engineer's budget, including a 10 percent contribution toward health insurance, which the commissioners have been asking for in all union pacts.
The second version, with alterations, was faxed to the engineer's office on Tuesday, and Marsico said there was no time to review them.
Marsico said both sides have agreed not to give specifics about the contract until a new pact has been approved. In general, he said, the contract contains language for modest pay raises and the 10 percent health-insurance contribution. The old pact with the Teamsters expired April 30.

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