The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 16, 2014

Commissioner says Ashtabula County is doing pretty good at mid-year point

JEFFERSON — As the county reaches the mid-year point, it is in a better financial state than many other counties in Ohio, said Ashtabula County Commissioner Dan Claypool.

“We’re doing pretty good,” he said.

At the beginning of the year, the county’s estimated revenue was $20 million and $21 million was appropriated to the various departments.

The county estimated it would collect $3 million in property taxes, $9.5 million in sales tax and $1.1 million in casino tax.

As of June 30, $1.7 million has been collected in property tax, which is 58 percent, $4.7 million has been collected in sales tax, which is 50 percent, and, $600,000 has been collected in casino tax, which is 54 percent.

Claypool said if the county took a snapshot today, the carryover for next year would be $1.8 million, if everything that was appropriated was spent.

The biggest challenge the county has been facing, and continues to face, is the rising cost of the criminal justice agencies.

“It’s no one’s fault,” Claypool said.

As of the beginning of the year, there have been nine murders in Ashtabula County and approximately 40 drug-related deaths.

To try and combat the problem and develop a plan to keep costs down in the future, Claypool is proposing a Criminal Justice Task Force made up of individuals within the criminal justice agencies who would work with the commissioners on a plan.

“Next year that extra money that was given to the Sheriff isn’t going to be there,” he said.

Claypool said the task force will consist of elected officials that will work to create a comprehensive plan to determine the best path forward in dealing with the criminal justice situation.

“We need to know what we are going to do over the next couple years,” he said.

Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nick Iarocci said there have already been some behind the scenes meetings happening to discuss the issue.

“I think this is exactly what needs to be done,” he said. “The system is broke and it needs to be fixed.”

Claypool said the county is facing several financial challenges in 2015 including a 27th pay, a worker’s compensation retrospective pay, rising healthcare costs and the increase in criminal justice costs.

Claypool also noted several positive aspects in the county. He said there are currently more than 900 jobs available in Ashtabula County. The jobs are anything from doctors to service workers.

Mohawk Papers recently extended its lease at its Saybrook Township facility through December 2022; Cristal Global is undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion project; and, Ashta Chemicals recently announced a multi-million dollar project as well.

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