Published: Thursday, October 11, 2007
Soil district official makes fund request
The commissioners plan budget hearings with county officials.
LISBON Peter Conkle, district project director for the Columbiana County Soil and Water Conservation District, said he'd be thrilled if county commissioners gave him $50,000 next year.
The county's share of the county Soil and Water Conservation District's budget is $56,000.
Conkle said the smaller amount would still keep his program close to full funding.
Commissioners have given the agency more than $7,000 in each of the past two years to cover insurance costs for workers.
In 2006 and 2007, the district brought in more than $514,000 in state and federal funds to the county. Those funds go to protect land in a variety of ways. That figure jumps to more than $866,000 from 2003 to 2007.
"We're trying to go forward and not sit on our bones," Conkle said Wednesday.
Farming is still the county's largest industry, he said.
Columbiana County is fourth in the state in cow and beef production and sixth in dairy production.
The conservation and environmental programs help protect the land ranging from new home construction to helping animals have enough room to live properly.
Many people in the county have horses but keep them on a too-small lot. Conkle said there were about 90 horses kept at homes along a one-mile stretch of road near Beaver Creek State Park's riding trails.
The district also gets about $8,400 a year from the county auditor's office to make sure land that has been dedicated to be left in a natural state with a lower tax rate remains unused.
Commissioner Jim Hoppel told district officials, "None of us are against you."
Hoppel said commissioners are about $600,000 behind in their payments to the private company that runs the county jail. That should be paid down by the end of the year, he added.
Commissioners still have to trim about $2.3 million in requests from the county's 2008 budget.
The meeting was the first of the budget hearings for next year.
Commissioners have hearings scheduled next week with the sheriff, prosecutor and coroner. All three agencies have seen a rise in crime they say is connected to drug abuse.