Trumbull commissioners expect to approve $47.3 million budget today


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

The Trumbull County commissioners are expected to approve a $47.3 million general fund budget at Wednesday’s commissioners meeting, an increase of about $1.5 million over 2017.

The general fund is the one that covers most county operations, such as the sheriff’s office and jail.

The increase allows for pay increases for county employees that have been approved in recent months and higher health care costs, Trumbull County Auditior Adrian Biviano said.

The amount of money being collected from sales taxes in 2018 is expected to be about $25.2 million, which is about $1.4 million less than in 2017, but that is primarily because of the loss of $2.5 million to $3 million in 2018 Medicaid-related sales-tax dollars, Biviano said.

The Ohio Legislature replaced those losses with about $3.9 million to the county, but Biviano said he plans to keep that money in a separate account for use in 2019.

Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka said Tuesday the budget “just maintains the services we have,” adding that he doesn’t expect to increase taxes this year.

“We should be mindful of the future, but we’re not at that point now,” Polivka said of seeking additional funds. “We’ll watch the sales taxes and go from there.”

In another county matter, an attorney with the Ohio Ethics Commission confirmed Commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa and Dan Polivka sought and received guidance a few months ago as to whether it was legal for Mike Matas to be hired as county administrator after serving on a committee that recommended the position be reinstated.

Cantalamessa and Atty. Jim Misocky, special projects coordinator for the commissioners, said Tuesday that Matt Lampke, Ohio Ethics Commission general counsel, told them Matas being hired “wasn’t in conflict” with ethics laws.

Matas was chairman of the Citizens Budget Review Committee that recommended the hiring of a county administrator/purchasing director and other changes to county government.

Some months after the committee made its recommendations, Matas applied for the administrator job. Matas was selected but later resigned the position, citing family reasons.

Lampke forwarded materials to The Vindicator that he sent Cantalamessa, Polivka and Misocky Jan. 30 after having a telephone conversation with the three.

The supporting materials from Lampke are not as definite as what Misocky and Cantalamessa describe, Cantalamessa agreed.

The materials say the commissioners must “analyze whether the advisory committee members were public officials or employees and whether the committee could create a new position or authorize the employment of any person.”

Lampke clarified to The Vindicator by phone that if a committee member like Matas was not a public official or public employee and they did not have the power to create a new position or authorize the employment of any person, “then the ethics law [prohibiting him from applying for the position] would not apply to them.”

The letter says the commissioners would need to request an advisory opinion on the specific matter in order to get a specific advisory opinion.

Cantalamessa said Tuesday no decision has been made yet on whether to try again to hire a county administrator.

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