August 21, 2014

Elyria
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Soil and Water district needs $80K

The head of the Lorain Soil and Water Conservation District warned county commissioners Thursday that her office is in “dire need” of $80,000 or it could be forced to close.

“If we do not get this request, I look at office closure in May,” said District Administrator Nancy Funni. “We have been very careful with (how we spend) the county’s money.”

Commissioners, who cut district’s budget two years in a row, promised to examine their own budget and giving the district more money at a meeting next week.

“I don’t think we have any alternative,” Commissioner Lori Kokoski said.

Funni has a staff of six that operates on a budget of about $360,000 a year.

She said the district received nearly $159,000 in funding from the commissioners in 2006, but that sum was cut to about $124,000 in both 2007 and 2008. The remainder of the district’s funding comes from the state.

If the commissioners kick in the $80,000 requested by Funni, the state will provide additional funds as well, she said.

The district is responsible for reviewing drainage plans of new subdivisions to ensure they meet requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes said.

County Engineer Ken Carney said the district also is in charge of cleaning ditches and performs other vital functions.

“They’re hard-working people and their overhead is very, very small,” Carney said. “We’re partners in creating drainage solutions.”

The commissioners awarded the district $500,000 in 2002 to clean ditches, but the last of that money was spent last year, Funni said.

After Thursday’s meeting, county Administrator James Cordes and Commissioner Betty Blair said the county continues to have budget concerns and they remain concerned about the county dipping into its carry-over reserves to stave off further budget cuts.

In 2007, the county spent about $3.5 million more than it brought in. There was a $13.3 million carry-over brought forward into 2008, county Budget Director Lisa Hobart said.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.