Lake County commissioners recently passed a resolution that would look to repeal the way the state’s Local Government Fund has been distributed throughout the county for the last 30 years.
State law stipulates a county keeps 30 percent of the Local Government Fund and then the rest is divided among the various entities unless there is an alternative distribution formula in place in a county — which there is in Lake.
When the formula was approved in 1982 it was determined the county would receive 11 percent of the allocation rather than the full 30 percent, which commissioners say they recently discovered the county could receive.
Only one other county keeps less than that amount — Belmont County, which keeps 16 percent.
For a change to occur now, state law also requires the governing bodies of the largest city in the county — in this case Mentor — and a majority of the communities also pass resolutions to approve the change.
Commissioners said the communities within the county have received the sweetest deal in the state of Ohio for 30 years and it’s time to revisit the issue.
The timing of this proposal came into question by some community leaders, especially after the resolution passed two days after commissioners approved a 0.5 percent raise in the county’s sales tax, while reducing property taxes and stormwater management fees.
It’s no secret the city of Mentor wanted commissioners to delay the sales tax decision to give the city additional time for study and input.
Commissioners repeatedly said they had no choice but to increase the county’s revenue or services would take a major hit and delaying that decision would further hurt the county’s budget this year.
What that discussion also brought to light was the sometimes acrimonious relationship between the governments of Mentor and Lake County.
With that said, there is little chance Mentor officials would agree to give up a portion of the $2,706,603 the city received in fiscal year 2011 from the Local Government Fund. Lake County received a $1,832,578 share.
Even if Mentor would, a majority of communities in the county also need to approve the idea. We’ve heard numerous times and printed stories about how communities struggle with their own budgets, so that support is doubtful.
Perhaps the commissioners’ timing was bad, maybe a few feathers were ruffled or there were some egos involved, but even if the proposal fails, one thing for certain was accomplished. The issue has been brought to public attention and it likely won’t go away as long as there is a Local Government Fund.
If it fails to materialize, the next opportunity to begin the process is 5 years, according to state law. Who knows what the Board of Lake County Commissioners will look like then and what the financial situation of local governments will be.
n Fundraiser for James Helmink, candidate for Ohio House of Representatives District 60, with special guest state Sen. Capri Cafaro, 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, at Cappelli’s in Mentor. See Michael Wagner or Helmink.
n Fundraiser for Judy Moran, candidate for Lake County commissioner, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at Dino’s Restaurant and Banquet Center in Willoughby. See Kathy Russo, Traci Olic or Kevin Malecek.
n Annual Mardi Gras Party for Daniel P. Troy, candidate for Ohio House of Representatives District 60, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Kip Molenaar.
n Lorraine M. Fende, candidate for Lake County treasurer, hosts Families for Fende Spaghetti Dinner 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Dino’s Restaurant in Willoughby. See Diane Fox or Nick Cindric.
n Leap Day event for 11th District Court of Appeals Judge Mary Jane Trapp, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29 at Willoughby Hills Community Center. See Kathy DiCristofaro or Mike Apicella.
n Campaign kickoff party for Emilee Teresczuk, candidate for Lake County Clerk of Courts, 5 to 7:30 p.m. March 14 at Frank and Pauly’s in Mentor. See Teresczuk or Brian Wollet.
John Arthur Hutchison