$310K from sales-tax fund to aid extension service, county SWCD

The extension service had threatened layoffs after the commissioners eliminated 40 percent of its funding.

STAFF report

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County commissioners have found $310,000 in an old sales-tax fund to give to two county agencies.

The commissioners stripped $413,000 from the budgets of the Ohio State University Extension Office in Canfield and the Mahoning Soil and Water Conservation District last month when they approved the county’s 2009 budget.

The cuts were among $4.7 million in reductions commissioners made in the 2009 budget compared to 2008.

At their meeting Thursday, the commissioners approved giving $225,000 to the extension service and $85,000 to the soil and water conservation district.

The extension service said the county provided $303,000 in 2008, which was 40 percent of its funding, and that the loss of the county money would possibly lead to layoffs.

The money commissioners gave to the extension service and soil and water conservation district came from the county’s community development fund, which was created after voters approved a 0.5 percent sales tax in 1999, said George Tablack, county administrator.

The sales tax, which voters approved primarily to keep Mahoning County Jail open, was collected from 2000 through 2005, Tablack said.

The fund most recently has been used to provide the $100,000 to the Western Reserve Port Authority as Mahoning County’s 2009 share of the cost to hire an economic development director to serve Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Tablack said the fund may have enough money left to provide $100,000 for 2010 to the port authority, but beyond that, the fund is “pretty well depleted.” The Mahoning County Auditor’s office said Thursday afternoon it didn’t have anyone available to check on the amount of money left in the fund.

The soil and water conservation district, which assists property owners with erosion, flooding and management practices needed to conserve and develop soil, water and related resources, received $110,000 from the county commissioners last year.

The extension office provides farmers and the public with research-based information on agricultural and horticultural matters, educates the public about nutrition and operates 4-H programs.

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