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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A closer look at the state's Local Government Fund

Gov. John Kasich’s state budget proposal may cause local governments in Ohio to feel the pinch from a substantial funding loss.

If approved, the state Local Government Fund will decrease by 33 percent overall during the next two years when fiscal year 2012 begins July 1.

Broken down by year, the decrease in the state’s budget for local governments would decline by 20.9 percent in fiscal year 2012. The total dollars would drop to $526 million from the $665 million allocated for fiscal year 2011.

For fiscal year 2013, the overall total drops to $339 million, which is a loss of $190 million or 35.6 percent from fiscal year 2012.

Upon further review, the total allocated for fiscal year 2013 is down overall $326 million or about 49 percent from fiscal year 2011.

For Lake County as a whole, $16.9 million in state Local Government Fund dollars was distributed to 26 entities in 2010.

Under the budget proposal, the county would lose about $3.53 million in the fiscal year 2012 and then an additional $4.758 million in fiscal year 2013.

Commissioner Daniel P. Troy hinted Thursday that perhaps it might be time to take a closer look at exactly how that money is distributed within the county.

According to Ohio Revised Code, the method of distribution can be conducted in two ways — either the county Budget Commission can make a determination on how to distribute the money or the political subdivisions can pass an alternate formula.

Back in the 1980s, officials choose the alternate formula methodology and it’s been done that way ever since, according to Joe Dowd, chief deputy auditor for Lake County.

The formula was derived by using a base amount and on population figures back then and is generally updated every 10 years.

According to Ohio Revised Code, any changes to the formula or a decision to simply allow the Budget Commission to make the distributions would need to be approved by county commissioners, the legislative body for the county’s largest city — which is currently Mentor — and by at least 50 percent of the remaining communities.

If those officials and communities approved any potential changes, the matter would come before the county Budget Commission, which is comprised of the county auditor, treasurer and prosecutor.

The point was?

National Sunshine Week began March 13 and concluded Saturday. It was designed to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofit organizations, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

The initiative got off to a peculiar start Monday in Ohio as the governor first decided to not let media take photos, shoot video or utilize television cameras during his Tuesday afternoon press briefing that he conducted prior to unveiling the state’s proposed budget at a town hall meeting later in the day.

Kasich eventually changed his mind after complaints were filed by the Ohio Newspaper Association and The Associated Press.

Geauga filings, possible candidates

David Snively has filed petitions with the Geauga County Elections Board for Newbury Township trustee.

Potential candidates — meaning they have not filed for office — include Susan Plavcan for Auburn Township fiscal officer; Jeremiah Polz and Joseph J. Triscaro for Bainbridge Township trustee; Nancy Call-Szorady, Luanne Dvorak for Burton Township trustee; Clay Lawrence for Chester Township trustee; Michael Stark for Chester Township fiscal officer; Bob Faehnle for Munson Township trustee; Patrick J. Joyce and Michael Massey for Parkman Township trustee; Martin Winston for Russell Township trustee; Thomas Petronio, Robin Lynn Wells and Andy Sefcik for Cardinal Board of Education; Jackie Dottore for West Geauga Board of Education.

Willoughby Hills Councilman David M. Fiebig: Spring Fever party, 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday at Willoughby Hills Community Center. See Joyce Hribar Fiebig.

Realtors Political Action Committee: Silent/live auction, 5:30 p.m., Thursday at Kirtlander Party Center. See Vicki Pate.

Mayor Mark Tyler of Kirtland, will host a Gathering of Friends, 5:30 to 7:30, April 14 at Dino’s Restaurant on Route 306. See Sandy Tyler.

John Arthur Hutchison’s column appears Sundays in The News-Herald. View it online:
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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