COLUMBIANA COUNTY Commissioner: State will cut local funding

The first of two bridge replacement projects is expected to open for bids in March.
LISBON -- Already struggling to plug holes in their budget, Columbiana County commissioners braced Wednesday for more possible cuts.
Commissioners said area lawmakers have indicated the Legislature appears ready to slash up to 20 percent from the Local Government Fund, which provides state aid to counties, municipalities and townships.
"There's going to be a cut in LGF. How much remains to be seen," Commissioner Gary Williams said at Wednesday's commissioners meeting.
Columbiana County receives $2.3 million a year, or about 13 percent of its general fund budget, from the Local Government Fund. Since the state operates on a different fiscal year, that would cost the county anywhere from $69,000 to $230,000 annually in 2005 and 2006.
Commissioner Sean Logan said the impact on the county would be greater because it uses half of those funds to make debt payments on loans.
The commissioners have other financial problems. They slashed money for salaries of county employees by 20 percent amid declining sales tax revenue, and that has forced many departments to close one a day a week.
Also at the meeting
In other business, commissioners:
UDiscussed the impact of legislation signed this month by Gov. Bob Taft that will add 32 cents to the bills of cell phone customers to support 911 services.
Williams said the money is needed to extend planned 911 service to wireless phones. But he said it likely will be nearly a year before local officials see any of those funds.
The county is in the process of setting up a 911 system to serve land-based telephones. Williams, who has spearheaded the efforts, said he hopes to have the system running by the end of the year.
Revenues from the fee paid by land line phone users are running about 14 percent behind projections. Williams said he believes the wireless fee will bring in close to the $240,000 a year.
"I would think there are just as many cell phones in Columbiana County as land lines," he said. "It seems like everybody's got a cell phone."
U Voted 3-0 to begin seeking bids from contractors on a pair of bridge replacements.
The first bridge is on Middle Beaver Road just west of state Route 7 in Elkrun Township. The aging bridge over Turkeyfoot Run will be replaced with a new concrete structure.
Mary Browne, an engineer with the county, said she expects the contract to be awarded around March 16, with work starting at the beginning of May. The deadline for the project, estimated at $600,000, is Sept. 31. She said the road will be closed and traffic will be detoured at state Route 154 through Rogers.
The second project involves replacing a bridge on King Road that was damaged by flooding Aug. 28 and remains closed. The project also includes building a new culvert on Goshen Road in Perry Township.
Troy Graff, the county's chief engineer, estimated the cost at $140,000. He said bids would be opened March 2, with work likely beginning April. It is expected to last four to six weeks.