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TRUMBULL COUNTY Sales tax likely to balance payroll



Published: Tue, July 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The coroner's office is asking for an additional $181,775.

WARREN -- When the new county sales tax money arrives, Auditor David Hines recommends using most of it to balance a payroll that is $1.8 million short.

Collection on the county's two additional quarter-percent taxes started July 1. The first payment is to be sent to the county from the state's Sales and Use Tax Division in September.

Hines, a member of the county's budget commission, says the county's total payroll will exceed what's currently available by $1.8 million if the current rate of spending continues.

The new sales taxes are expected to generate $3 million for the rest of this year. After the current payroll is addressed, there would be $1.2 million of that left.

Hines suggests commissioners then look at using some of that $1.2 million to bail out departments that have cut back: the sheriff and jail, county coroner, 911, and to pay utilities.

A new budget certificate would likely be issued by the three-member county budget commission -- auditor, treasurer and prosecutor -- after the sales tax funds begin to arrive in September, Hines said.

"Then, the commissioners will look at the needs of all the departments and the county as a whole to redistribute the money," said Tony Carson, county administrator.

Carson said commissioners have been aware of the payroll shortage. Some $800,000 of the $1.8 million shortage is from the sheriff and jail, he said.

Carson noted that the majority of layoffs this year have hit the sheriff and maintenance staffs; experiencing layoffs or short workweeks are the auditor, treasurer and recorder's staffs.

The county would hope to use some of the remaining $1.2 million for carry-over into next year, Carson said.

Coroner's request

The Trumbull County coroner's office, meanwhile, has sent a letter to commissioners about running out of money. It is requesting $181,775.

Coroner Dr. Theodore Soboslay asked that money be transferred for items such as employee salaries, benefits and retirement, and the same for the forensic pathologist.

Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, forensic pathologist, warned commissioners in March that the investigation of death here would halt in July if the staff couldn't be paid.

"He has no control over how many people are going to die or how many autopsies he's going to perform," Hines noted.

"It is critical. Right now we are photocopying on two sides and using scrap paper," Dr. Germaniuk said. "We have been trying to cut back without compromising the overall quality of investigation."

Of the 2,300 to 2,600 deaths expected to occur this year in Trumbull County, Dr. Germaniuk estimates that 216 to 231 will fall under the coroner's jurisdiction. The office as of Monday was at 115 compared with 121 this time a year ago.

If money runs out, there will be no one in the coroner's office to answer calls and no one to pay for transporting the body.

Falling short

The coroner's office in 2004 spent $654,856. Its 2005 budget request was $774,369 but commissioners approved $485,369.

The coroner's 2004 budget reveals the office ran short $18,400 for autopsy services; $9,250 for dues to professional associations; $7,800 for medical testing; $1,500 for professional services; $400 for telephone; and $500 for medical services. These bills were carried over into 2005.

Additional money was transferred by the county auditor's office in 2004 to meet overdrawn accounts for employees' retirement, hospitalization and life insurance.

The staff of six includes four registered nurses who are investigators. Dr. Germaniuk is paid $111,000 a year. This year's budget set aside $66,666 for him.

Dr. Soboslay is paid $106,294 and was hired Jan. 1, 1989. Dr. Soboslay donates office space at 1863 East Market St. and pays the utility bills.

The county already collects a half-percent sales tax; the two new taxes make the county's total sales tax rate 1 percent.

One tax is an emergency quarter-percent additional sales tax for criminal justice services, such as the sheriff; the other is for general county operations. Both are for a continuing period.




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