TRUMBULL COUNTY Budget crunch leaves schools, governments waiting for funds

Commissioners have not finalized the general fund budget.
WARREN -- Trumbull County schools, local governments and some libraries have received notice that they'll probably have to wait to receive real estate tax money because of county belt tightening.
The delay actually affects advances on real estate taxes for the first half of 2005. Right now the delay is about a week; whether it increases depends on how much the staff in the county auditor and treasurer's offices can get done.
"We're going to make every effort we can to get the payments out as timely as we can," said Adrian Biviano, chief deputy auditor.
"They rely on that this time of the year," added Mark Delfrati, deputy auditor. "All of the schools get advances and some of the townships request advances."
Auditor David Hines mailed a letter of apology this week saying the advances "may be delayed." Libraries with tax levies, which are Warren-Trumball County and Newton Falls, also got a letter.
Cash has to be available from the county treasurer's office to make the tax advances, and there's also a potential for delay there.
Cost-cutting measures
The treasurer's office closes from noon to 1 p.m. and at 2:30 daily to process checks, paperwork and mail. The 14 employees are taking a week off per month on a rotating basis to help the office save money.
The auditor's staff of 14 is working four days a week on a rotating basis and closing at lunch.
Usually the auditor's office tries to make weekly disbursements of real estate tax advances. Right now there is a delay of about a week, the officials said.
"We get to what we can get," Biviano said.
County commissioners, meanwhile, are still trying to finalize the county's $32 million general fund budget.
Commissioner Paul Heltzel said some county departments either increased or decreased their budget requests during a second round of budget hearings this month. Some allocations will be changed in the final document, which could come next week, he said.
He held out little hope that there would be relief for the sheriff's department, which is planning to ship some prisoners to other jails once layoffs there occur this weekend.
The commissioners did adopt annual appropriations for all funds not associated with or supported by the general fund, such as the sanitary engineer, children services and the county engineer.
The general fund and seven others have been held up because the commissioners are still working to determine how much general support will be given to Jobs and Family Services, Child Support Enforcement Agency, Emergency Management Agency, 911 emergency service, Office of Elderly Affairs transportation, Soil and Water Conservation and Trumbull County Metro Parks.
Trumbull County's top fiscal officers are urging commissioners to impose a second half-percent sales tax to generate $6 million to $8 million annually.
That's because the $32 million certified for the county's general fund this year is $6 million short of what's needed, the officials said.