Funding dispute is settled by court
Every subdivision in the county was part of the lawsuit filed by East Liverpool.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- The Seventh District Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Columbiana County officials in a funding dispute with East Liverpool.
The court's ruling Wednesday in favor of the county budget commission should end years of bickering.
"That's good news," said Nancy Milliken, the county auditor.
Every city, village and township in the county was named in the lawsuit brought by East Liverpool over the distribution of local government funds.
Milliken, along with county Treasurer Linda Bolton and county Prosecutor Robert Herron, make up the budget commission. It oversees the distribution of state funds known as local government funds.
Change in the law
East Liverpool has the largest population in the county. Under previous state law, because of its size, East Liverpool could get a larger percentage of the funds. The city also had veto power over alternative distribution formulas for the funds.
But in 2002, the state allowed county subdivisions to eliminate the veto and to vote as a block. Subdivisions representing 70 percent of the population agreed to a new formula that would have cut East Liverpool's share of the money.
In 2003, East Liverpool filed suit, saying the new law was unconstitutional. The city also sought an injunction against enacting the new county distribution formula, and an order to use the 1990 formula. The appeals court rejected all three requests.
The ruling lets stand the new formula. Each subdivision gets $15,000 and additional money based on population. The total available for distribution varies from year to year.
"It's probably the fairest way to do it," said Milliken.
She declined to comment further until she read the court ruling.
The county used to be a part of the local formula process but that was also changed. The county now gets 50 percent of the annual local government funds.
This year the county will get about $2.2 million from the funds. It received $2.3 million last year.