December 22, 2014

Elyria
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County deals with budget crunch, approves Vermilion tax abatement

ELYRIA — County Sheriff Phil Stammitti promised Thursday not to ask the county commissioners for more funds this year — at least for his road patrol division.

“I’m not going to be back here asking you for more money,” Stammitti said to scattered applause at the commissioners’ meeting. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be forced to come back at some point for another pressing problem: He’s still about $300,000 in the red in operating the county jail.

Stammitti had asked for an additional $146,000 earlier this year to help him deal with  budget constraints brought on by the county’s tight budgets. In July, the commissioners gave him $75,000, which Stammitti said Thursday was enough, at least for the patrol division.

Meanwhile, the commissioners agreed to spend nearly $200,000 on eight new patrol cars for deputies based on Capt. Jim Drozdowski’s promise that he wouldn’t ask for any new vehicles next year, when the county may face even tighter budget constraints.

The county lost about $3.5 million in state funding at the beginning of the year and has seen its costs continue to rise. Earlier this year, commissioners passed a 0.25 percent income tax hike that could bring in about $7.4 million annually, but it must still be approved by voters next month since opponents gathered enough signatures to force the vote.

Stammitti isn’t the only department that has run short because of the county’s budget woes, and the commissioners have found themselves shelling out more money than they’d like to because of it.

“We’re at the point now where we’re going to have to start moving money around,” county Administrator Jim Cordes said at the budget discussion Thursday.

The commissioners agreed to give another $172,950 to the county Board of Elections that the board’s director, Jose Candelario, said was necessary to pay for postage, salaries and other items that his office needed to get through the year.

Candelario said he had no choice. “These are just colossal numbers that are mandated by the state, and they didn’t send a check with it,” he said.

The commissioners gave the county Domestic Relations and Juvenile courts another $107,000 to keep the county Juvenile Detention Home operating.

The commissioners also approved a 10-year, 75 percent tax abatement for Coleys Inc. for the new 30,000 square foot building the company is building in Vermilion. The project will cost at least $3.6 million and create six new jobs.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.