East Palestine officials say income study best route to future grants

EAST PALESTINE — Village officials are hoping that people participate in the low to moderate income (LMI) survey being conducted the by Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP).

Results of the study will help the village with regards to future grants, since many Community Development Block Grants are geared toward assisting LMI areas.

Interim Village Manager Traci Spratt told council during the Monday meeting that a random selection of 450 surveys were sent out.

She said the surveys will not disclose the identities of those who participate, as that will remain confidential.

“We are encouraging residents to turn in the LMI survey,” Spratt said.

She added that some people have asked why the data could not be collected through RITA, or Regional Income Tax Agency.

Like other municipalities in the county, the village uses RITA for its municipal income tax collection and administration.

Spratt explained that the information compiled by RITA cannot be used for the survey because by law that data is confidential.

She also said that RITA does not include all income. For example, someone who is on a retirement or pension but also works a part-time job, that part time job would not be included in RITA.

In other matters, council approved:

— Giving a second reading to legislation establishing a new fund known as the fire loss agency fund.

— Giving a first reading to legislation authorizing the Ohio Department of Transportation bridge inspection program (routine matter).

— Giving a first reading to legislation eliminating the electric trust fund debt. The legislation was recommended by the state auditor’s office, Spratt said.

The legislation will allow the village to cancel and eliminate all loans and debts from financial records with regards to the fund.

The village began borrowing money from the fund in 1996 and continued through 2006. While it has paid back roughly $500,000 of the total $2.4 million borrowed over the years, there was still $1.9 million remaining to be paid back that the village has not been able to pay due to not having the funds available.

In recent years village council approved several ordinances that allowed for the suspension of payments back to the trust fund, but now the state auditor has urged eliminating the debt instead.

According to the legislation, “State Auditors have issued recommendations to eliminate said loans on the books of the village to more accurately reflect the financial status of the village.”

In other business, council also approved an executive session to review the resumes for the village manager position. No action was taken.