COLUMBIANA COUNTY Hearings aim to eke out a budget

Departmental budget requests total nearly twice the amount that's available.
LISBON -- Starting 2002 budget hearings, Columbiana County commissioners are faced with persuading some department heads to make do with less than they've requested.
The budget hearings, aimed at helping craft the 2002 general fund budget, began Wednesday.
Before the hearings started, commissioners said funding requests from department heads total nearly $8.1 million, about $4 million more than is available.
To help determine how much to appropriate, commissioners used a formula that accounts for the increasing cost of doing business and each department's annual expenditures over a decade.
Commissioners noted that even after applying their appropriations formula, requests still outpace available revenue.
Here's the situation: A shortage of general fund revenue is putting the county in a budgeting fix.
Commissioners are projecting the county will have about $12.8 million coming into the general fund in 2002. But that amount could drop by several hundred thousand dollars if the state cuts funding.
Another concern is that revenue from the county's 1 percent sales tax, which brings in about $600,000 per month, could plummet if the economy continues to sour.
Commissioners said the county is being operated as frugally as possible.
Commissioners must have a budget prepared by the first of the year.
In many cases, they can dictate how much each department will get.
But some departments have the power to mandate that their funding request be fully met.
Mandated offices in county government include the courts, prosecutor and the veterans services agency.

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