Money will be tight, Columbiana officials say

LISBON — Columbiana County officials say they won’t borrow money for operations but will instead wait for sales tax revenue.

That means county offices will be running with tight revenue for the next few months.

“That’s the latest plan,” Jim Hoppel, chairman of the commissioners, said today.

County Auditor Nancy Milliken added, “It’s going to be tight.”

The county has had a tight budget since voters rejected a 0.5-percent sales tax three times. The commissioners voted to enact the sales tax that will generate about $4 million a year.

The tax won’t go into effect until April 1, and the county won’t receive any money until July because of the lag time between when the tax is collected and the revenue is returned to the county.

The county also is collecting a 1-percent sales tax.

The commissioners have approved one-month appropriations for county offices for January and February.

In response to the budgets, Judges David Tobin and C. Ashley Pike of common pleas court told the commissioners they would shut down when their money runs out.

County Recorder Craig Brown laid off two workers, and county Coroner Dr. William Graham has not done autopsies.

Since commissioners imposed the tax, Hoppel said the coroner’s office was given $10,000 for autopsies and the judges were given $10,000 for postage and other costs.

The county made it through 2006 with a $1.8 million carry-over from the 2005. Officials had kept spending down in 2005 in case the sales tax failed.

Milliken said the county ended 2006 with a balance of $759,000.

Milliken said her office is down to two bookkeepers, the recorder’s office is still short two workers, and other departments have needs.

But until revenue from the half-percent sales tax arrives, Milliken said, “Hopefully, we can curb spending.”

She said her office will save money by having department heads pick up earning statements for workers when the officials pick up paychecks. In the past, the statements were mailed to workers.

In another matter, the commissioners enacted a fee of 6 cents per ton of construction debris that is dumped at waste disposal facilities in the county.

Hoppel said the fee will bring in an extra $67,000 a year that can be used for litter control and investigating illegal dumping. Hoppel said the money also could be used to fund the salary of a part-time deputy and help pay for a cruiser to do that work.

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