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The Suburbanite
  • Commissioners review county finances, land bank

  • Stark County commissioners held a work session Tuesday and heard an update on the county’s financial situation. They also continued their discussion on the proposed county land bank.

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  • The county’s revenue and spending appear to be on track following the first two months of the year, county officials said Tuesday.
    Auditor Alan Harold said as of Feb. 29, the county has collected $4.9 million in revenue for the county’s main operating fund, known as the general fund. The fund supports central county government functions such as the offices of the sheriff, prosecutor, coroner, recorder, auditor and treasurer.
    The figure is slightly higher than the $4.5 million collected in the first two months last year. But Harold said this year’s increase is slightly misleading because it includes the $2.1 million in accumulated payments that his office and the county clerk of courts transferred to the general fund to help ease an expected revenue shortfall.
    Harold presented the figures with Treasurer Alexander Zumbar on Tuesday as part of their second monthly meeting to update  commissioners on the financial condition of the general fund, which is largely supported by taxpayers.
    Zumbar said another misleading figure on the latest financial report is the county’s investment income, which shows the treasurer has collected 39 percent of the $900,200 he expects to receive in investment income. Zumbar said he believes the income will drop sharply later this year as the county’s high-interest investments mature and new investments must be locked in at lower interest rates.
    The next financial update will be presented April 10.
    LAND BANK
    During the second half of the commissioners’ work session Tuesday, the board continued its discussion on creating a county land bank, which would be a separate, quasi-governmental board that could acquire abandoned and foreclosed properties and transfer them clear of tax liens to neighbors or relocating companies and more for development.
    Officials from Massillon and Canton spoke in favor of the idea. Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Deborah Dawson relayed a message from Larry Morgan, superintendent of the Stark County Educational Service Center (ESC), who said the schools do not oppose the land bank concept, even though the schools stand to lose the most money when the delinquent taxes are cleared from the properties acquired by the land bank.
    Dawson said that Morgan asked that a representative from the school district be appointed to the land bank’s board of directors, suggested that the land bank board create an ethics policy since Ohio ethics laws would not apply to the corporation and requested that the schools get their respective share of any assets that remained if the land bank were to dissolve.
    Commissioners are expected to consider a resolution next week that would establish the Stark County Land Reutilization Corp. and authorize Zumbar to file its articles of incorporation with the state.