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The Suburbanite
  • State funds for local government cut again

  • The Stark County Budget Commission approved the 2013 distribution of $8.5 million in local government funds, which come from the state, to Stark County’s 17 townships, 13 villages, six cities, as well as to county government and the Stark County Park District. In 2012, the communities split $11 million.

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  • Stark County local governments split a $19 million pot of state funding in 1999.
    Next year, that pot, known as the local government fund, will be down to $8.5 million.
    On Thursday, the Stark County Budget Commission — a three-member board that distributes the funds based on a local formula — approved the 2013 allocation for Stark County’s 17 townships, 13 villages, six cities, as well as county government and the Stark County Park District.
    The reduction equals a 24-percent loss for each community in 2013 compared to this year’s allocations. Six communities, including Canal Fulton and Jackson and Lake townships, will see their share of the local government fund chopped in half compared to 2011, figures show.
    COMPOUNDED CUTS
    Most budget officials have been bracing for the decrease, first outlined in the state’s two-year budget that legislators approved in June 2011. Local government funding comes from a percentage of Ohio’s total general revenue fund.
    Still, officials say knowing that less money is coming from the state doesn’t help them with solutions for how to offset the shortfall, especially when the state also plans to eliminate estate taxes and personal property reimbursements.
    Randy Gonzalez, fiscal officer for Jackson Township, said state funding for the township will be at least $2 million lower in 2013 than it was this year. The local government fund accounts for $107,637 of the loss. The largest chunk of the shortfall is the $1 million the township typically receives each year in estate tax revenue. The township had relied on the estate tax revenue to fund its parks.
    “We knew it was coming, and we’ve been planning and reducing our costs,” Gonzalez said. “The trustees have merged three departments into one and eliminated two department heads. ... Now, it’s just a matter of losing services.”
    Or finding new revenue. Jackson is one of 15 local governments seeking a tax levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.
    Jackson’s 2.2-mill, five-year levy would generate $2.9 million a year for the parks, roads and other services. If approved, the levy would cost an owner of a $100,000 home $67.38 a year.