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Sharing the wealth

September 4, 2012
By TOM GIAMBRONI - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

LISBON -Columbiana County commission candidate Joe Csonka thinks sharing casino tax revenue with cities, villages and townships is a good idea.

Csonka, who is running against Commissioner Jim Hoppel in the Nov. 6 election, attended last week's meeting and told them he agreed with the idea of commissioners sharing the casino revenue they received instead of keeping it all.

Commissioners recently received a check for $94,000, representing the county's share of taxes generated by Ohio's two casinos during their first five weeks of operation. Commissioners have indicated they intend to use the casino money to offset $600,000 in state Local Government Fund money lost to cuts over the past two years and a $340,000 cut scheduled for 2013.

Cities, villages and townships also receive LGF funds, but not nearly as much as commissioners. "These townships and villages are taking a big hit in LGF funds just like commissioners," said Csonka, who is a Center Township trustee.

Center Township is scheduled to see its $47,000 LGF allocation cut by $11,200 in 2013.

Some communities in other counties have adopted resolutions asking commissioners to divide up the casino money using the same local formulas for distributing LGF money.

Commissioners did not respond to Csonka's comments. State government and school districts are also to share in the casino money.

Csonka also told commissioners he heard a rumor they were going to delay naming a new county Emergency Management Agency director until 2013, despite having a number of qualified county residents apply for the job.

Hoppel denied that was true, but indicated commissioners were dissatisfied with the three finalists presented to them by the interview committee of representatives from FirstEnergy, which provides most of the EMA's funding, the Ohio EMA, and interim county EMA director Edie Dillard.

Csonka wanted to know why commissioners were not involved in the screening process, and they said the committee was given the task of selecting three best candidates for them to choose from.

"I don't want to micromanage when we have these professionals doing the job," said Commissioner John Payne.

Hoppel said they have yet to decide whether to hire one of the three persons recommended by the review committee or seek additional applications.

The three finalists include a former American Red Cross official, a police lieutenant from another county, and a township trustee who also works for the Ohio Department of Transportation and is a volunteer firefighter.

Csonka said commissioners should hire a qualified person from the county, adding "There is a guy that is super qualified." He declined to identify the person.

The meeting was almost adjourned before Csonka could address the board because Hoppel - who was running the meeting -said he was unaware Csonka wanted to speak since he was not on the agenda. Payne indicated to Hoppel he believed Csonka wanted to address them.

Commission Chairman Mike Halleck was absent from the meeting to attend the Republican National Convention.



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