Commissioners putting casino money to good use

Last year, when Columbiana County received its first infusion of tax receipts from Ohio’s first two casinos, we called on county commissioners to share the loot by spreading it around to the various county townships and municipalities.

Shortly thereafter, several town councils and boards of township trustees made pleas to the county to help them out of financial hot water by sharing the wealth.

Now, however, commissioners have announced a plan that looks like it will benefit more countians than parceling out the money willy-nilly to the various governmental entities.

In order to increase participation in the County Drug Task Force, and to help already participating police forces pay for their contribution, commissioners said last week that they will use casino money to pay a portion of the salaries of police officers assigned to the DTF.

Under the plan, in exchange for $10,000 from commissioners, the city and village councils of participating police departments would be asked to pass a resolution requiring the assigned officer to commit to working at least 20 hours per week at the DTF.

Commissioner Tim Weigle said, if funds permit, they will also offer to provide $20,000 annually to any police department, except the sheriff’s office, that currently has an officer assigned to the DTF on a full-time basis. Commissioners may extend the offer to others which put an officer on full time.

Unfortunately, the DTF is being investigated by the state for financial irregularities, which has cast a shadow over its operations. The sooner this is cleared up the better, because the biggest problem facing Columbiana County today is drug abuse and the DTF is the best weapon we have at this point for battling this problem.

The DTF currently has only four departments participating – sheriff’s, Salem, Lisbon and Leetonia, about half of what it was at one time. If we’re going to win the war on drugs, we’re going to need more fighters. We hope this promise of financial aid will encourage more police departments to participate.

Commissioner Mike Halleck said, “We feel this a prudent way to share the (casino) money we are getting with other communities.” We agree. Kudos to commissioners for coming up with this plan.