Legal opinion says Trumbull cannot use its funds for causeway restoration


An Aug. 1 legal opinion provided to Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith suggests that county money cannot be used to restore washed away parts of the Kinsman Lake Causeway owned by the Lakeland Homeowners Association, but it leaves open the possibility of other funding sources.

The legal opinion and other developments in the effort to help residents of Kinsman Township are expected to be part of a discussion at 6 p.m. today at the Kinsman Township Hall.

On July 20, a portion of the roadway and earthen embankment that dams up Kinsman Lake breached during a huge rain event, eliminating the only way into and out of the Lakelands neighborhood, which contains about 30 homes. The residents were evacuated another way and have not been able to return to their homes since then except for limited purposes.

The opinion, written by Atty. William Danso, chief of the civil division of the county prosecutor’s office, says Smith requested legal guidance July 25 to find out whether Smith could use $1 million in Trumbull County “local match funding” for unrelated upcoming county road and bridge projects to help with the causeway restoration.

Smith’s office previously paid the $1 million to the Ohio Department of Transportation, but ODOT has offered to return the money and carry out the county projects without the matching county money in order to help Trumbull County.

Danso said the questions Smith posed involves a “very unique situation” with scant legal precedent.

Read MORE in Friday's VINDICATOR.

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