Green Team, Mahoning health board feud over funds

Published: Fri, December 21, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By William K. Alcorn


The Mahoning County District Board of Health, embroiled in a budget dispute with the county Solid Waste Management District, questioned the accuracy of the minutes of SWMD’s Policy Advisory Committee.

Health Commissioner Patricia Sweeney told the board at its meeting Wednesday the paraphrased minutes do not, in her opinion, accurately reflect in all instances what was said.

A board or committee speaks through its minutes, and it may be necessary to request tapes of the meetings so they can be transcribed word for word, said Leonard Perry, board member.

The board is particularly interested in word-for-word minutes because of the dispute with SWMD over the use of revenue derived from tipping fees at landfills and the definition of public health and safety.

The SWMD, or Green Team, has put emphasis on increasing recycling programs to the detriment of the board’s inspection of landfills, active and closed, and water wells around the landfills, Sweeney said.

“It’s a philosophical thing at this point,” she said.

In establishing budgets for 2013 and forward, the SWMD has proposed providing $300,000, or a 25-percent reduction in funding, for the county health department, beginning in 2015, while giving a 1 percent increase to most other organizations it funds, Sweeney said.

Mahoning County has the most active landfill operations — three — of any county in Ohio, and several closed landfills, said Sweeney, who believes at least $388,000 a year is needed to sustain the current level of service to township residents. The health board received $400,000 through the SWMD for this year, she said.

If the SWMD did not increase allocations to the rest of its programs by 1 percent, it would leave money to fund the health department at the $388,000 level. That would be agreeable to township trustees and the board, she said.

“Our goal, and that of the Mahoning County Township Association, whose members we serve, is to keep funding at the current level,” Sweeney said. “The township association’s representative on the policy committee, Robert Orr of Springfield Township, has been instructed to not accept any plan that does not keep funding level at $400,000 for 2015 forward.”

Ultimately, the budget will be decided by a vote by the city of Youngstown and townships representing 60 percent of the county’s population. The budget then would go to the county commissioners and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for approval, Sweeney said.

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