As I'm sure you know, this came as a huge blow to us.
I don't know what we need to do to let the Commissioners know that the very most important issue is making sure that the people in our county are safe.
Anyone with any suggestions, please let me know.
Sheriff still without extra manpowerBy TOM GIAMBRONI
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LISBON - Columbiana County commissioners adopted a 2009 budget that calls for modest spending increases in most offices except for the sheriff, who is scheduled to get about the same amount of money.
The $18.37 million budget approved Wednesday is considered by its architects a work in progress for several reasons. First, it doesn't take into account the year-end carryover balance, which can be considerable. Last year, it was $1.1 million.
Second, the budget includes no funding for the 4-H program, the Soil and Water Conservation District or the county fair. "We hope to fund them to some extent," said Commissioner Jim Hoppel.
Third, commissioners are facing a first-ever major financial commitment to the state-mandated foster care program - perhaps $250,000 -which is expected to begin operating at a deficit in March or April.
The county budget for 2008, as originally adopted, was $18.88 million but is expected to top out at $19.45 million once all of the bills are paid, according to the county auditor's office.
According to commissioners, overall county revenue is expected to drop by $400,000 to $18.4 million in 2009 due to a further decline in interest income and auditor and recorder fees because of the faltering economy.
Commissioners are also anticipate receiving $170,000 less in state Local Government Fund revenue in 2009, which offsets the extra $356,000 in LGF money they will have to work with since paying off the Strabala loan this year.
Sheriff Ray Stone was disappointed to learn he won't be getting the additional money needed to hire two more deputies for his already understaffed force. He had said before that the extra positions are needed to reinstate a third detective to the overburdened detective bureau and add another deputy to the road patrol.
Commissioners promised to follow the same pattern as this year, providing extra funding to offices as needed with a large sum held in reserve just for that purpose.
"We'll made adjustments as we went through the year and we'll make adjustments in '09, too," Hoppel said.
Being in a position to provide Stone with additional funding to add deputies is always a priority. "We'll be looking to see what we can do," he said.
Hoppel said commissioners never have much extra money to work with and the economic downturn has forced them to be even more conservative. "We've got to be careful," he said.
Despite the gloom and doom, collections from the two county sales taxes actually increased this year and are expected to continue doing so. Sales tax revenue accounts for two-thirds of county revenue, the majority of which is generated by the Wal-Mart stores in Calcutta and Salem. Wal-Mart is the only major retailer to experience an increase in business over the past several months.