County will save budget carry-over

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners intend to take the same approach as past years by holding onto as much of the record year-end budget balance as possible.

“We’re not trying to spend everything we got. We need to keep some of it for emergencies and such,” said Commission Chairman Jim Hoppel.

His comments came after this week’s meeting, when commissioners officially certified a carry-over balance in the county general fund in the amount of $2.43 million. The actual cash balance from 2013 was $3.31 million, but the auditor’s office took a combined $880,000 off the top to make the annual payment on the jail construction bonds, pay bills carried over from 2013, and cover the first two payrolls of the year.

This is the second consecutive year commissioners ended with a record balance. In 2012, the county ended the year with a carry-over balance of $2.2 million.

The 2012 balance was attributed to $1.7 million received from leasing county land for oil and gas production and first-time payments from the new state casino tax. Another $1.1 million in casino tax money and a $1.2 million in increase in county sales tax collections, coupled with a $2.5 million reduction in spending, created last year’s record balance.

Commissioners have historically used the balances to provide officeholders with additional funding on an as-needed basis as the year progresses, and they are expected to take the same approach in 2014. The last two years, they have also used some of the additional funding to help increase membership in the county drug task force, assist other communities on projects, and make improvements to county buildings and property.

When asked if what they intend to do with the balance this year, Hoppel said, “We don’t have any plans for it at the present time.”

In other business at this week’s meeting, commissioners approved the following new hires to fill vacancies in the county Department of Job and Family Services: Jessalyn Rockwell of Hanoverton, Heather G. Bosel of Salem and Megan A. Cowden of Hanoverton.