Published: Sunday, November 12, 2006
Officials facing financial doubt
A barn poster is being sold to help finance the county's 4-H program.
LISBON Columbiana County's financial picture is as clear as, well, a poster.
County officials have said they may have to start making drastic cuts as soon as the first quarter of 2007 without additional revenue. But there's no clear consensus on how to get more money.
Most county officials believe the county is going to be extremely short of money early next year. The county this year slashed funding to the 4-H program, and a "Century Barns" calendar is now being sold with all proceeds to go to 4-H.
Commissioner Gary Williams was defeated in the Democrat wave that swept out Republicans nationwide.
Williams said before his defeat that the county may have to begin collecting 2 inside mills of property tax. That's a tax officials can decide to collect.
Williams said he might and might not bring up the issue before the end of the year.
If the millage is collected, funds would start coming to the county starting in early 2007. The move would bring in about $2.8 million a year as compared to the $4 million that would come in from the 0.5 percent sales tax that voters rejected Tuesday.
It was the third defeat for the sales tax. If the sales tax was imposed, it would take about six months for the tax collections to reach the county.
Williams said that if fellow Republican Jim Hoppel is opposed, "there's not much sense in bringing it up."
Hoppel is opposed to the move. He, and the other commissioners in office at the time, agreed in 2000 not to collect the property tax in return for approval of the 1 percent sales tax. Voters last year re-approved the 1 percent tax.
"I can't go and change that [pledge]," Hoppel said.
Williams and Hoppel, both Republicans, believe that the public should vote on taxes. Commissioner Sean Logan, a Democrat, has proposed enacting the 0.5 percent sales tax.
Logan may have to wait for Daniel Bing, who defeated Williams last week, to join the board in January.
Bing said he was researching the county's options and didn't want to comment.
Williams and Hoppel have said they think the county will have enough money to start 2007 with some leftover bills from 2006. The commissioners and other office holders have been watching expenses and trying to maximize investment income.
Logan has said he believes the unpaid 2006 bills will be much higher than other officials estimate.
In the meantime, Jan Douglass of New Waterford on Friday unveiled the "Columbiana County Century Barns" poster featuring 11 "picturesque working old barns."
She hopes to sell 2,000 calendars to raise $12,000 for 4-H.
Farm & Dairy publisher Scott Darling donated the cost of the printing. Calendars will be sold at agriculture-related stores throughout the county.