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STATE Officials pleased with local funding



Published: Tue, June 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



LGF for Mahoning County government is about $6 million.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Two Mahoning County commissioners said they are glad state lawmakers are strongly looking at the possibility of making either reduced or no cuts to local government funds.

Commissioner John A. McNally IV said he was pleased to see Republican leadership spearheading the plan to return local government funding back to its original level.

Majority House and Senate Republicans said last week that restoring state dollars to local government funds in the new two-year, $51 billion state budget is a priority.

New projections from the state's Office of Budget and Management say about up to $810 million is available in additional revenue over the two-year budget period that begins July 1.

A version of the state budget the Senate approved the week of May 31, would have frozen state aid to local governments at current funding levels.

County sales tax

McNally said that 6 cents of the county's 6.5 cents sales tax goes to the state.

"A portion of that money should come back to local government, and it will be up to us [commissioners] to spend it wisely," McNally said Monday.

The state awards Ohio counties local government funds, which are shared among county, city, village and township governments. The amount of the awards is based partly on population.

The LGF amount for Mahoning County is roughly $6 million, and about a total of $20 million goes to all the county's political subdivisions and libraries.

"That is a huge chunk of change that deserved to come back to Mahoning County," McNally said.

Representatives of public libraries were especially concerned about the potential cuts because 75 percent of the 250 public library systems in the state depend on the local government funds as their sole source of revenue.

Putting up a fight

Anthony Traficanti, chairman of the commissioners, said he appreciated the work of state Sen. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd, and others who "ranted and raved" and did a good job of arguing on the behalf of local governments to allow the money to come back where it belongs.

"This allows us to maintain our key services for the county," Traficanti said.

The Senate's version of the budget would have cut state aid to counties by 10 percent. The governor had proposed a 20 percent state funding cut for counties. The House-passed state budget maintained the 20 percent reduction for counties, but would have cut it in half for counties that file a report with the state on consolidating services.

Cities had been set for a 20 percent trim in state aid, under both the governor's proposed budget as well as the House-passed version. However, the Senate version lowered the reduction to 10 percent on the first $1 million that cities get from the state and maintained a 20 percent reduction on the remaining state-provided funds.

Restoring local government funds to current levels would add about $187 million over the two-year budget period from the Senate-passed appropriations, the Taft administration has said.




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