County’s escrow account grows

LISBON — County Commissioners completed the transfer of $1.5 million into an escrow account during a brief meeting Wednesday.

The money was from a loan made to Buckeye Water District, which was repaid in full this year. In total, the commissioners have placed $5.2 million into escrow accounts including part of the $4.8 million carryover at the close of 2016. The commissioners already have $2.2 million in another escrow account and they are expecting additional one-time revenues of $4.9 million from the state’s budget.

Commissioners are hoping this $10 million being held in escrow will be there when changes begin reducing the county’s sales tax by an estimated $2 million.

As of July 2017 it was determined Ohio’s Medicaid managed care organizations sales tax is no longer to be a permissible taxing method. This impacts not only the state, but also the county and other local government organizations.

However, the governor’s budget has come up with some methods of smoothing the transition. Columbiana County is sharing in two pots of money along with the other counties and transit authorities. One pot of money is a $49 million revenue replacement calculation and the other has the county sharing in $158 million for those counties which have a loss of revenue from the sales tax greater than 4 percent. In both cases the payments are being made late this year.

Commissioner Mike Halleck has predicted the county will receive $4.9 million combined from the two programs. On Wednesday, the commissioner set up a new Medicaid sales tax distribution fund involving the money.

In other matters, the commissioner approved a transfer of $2,165 into the court’s special fund, from which a loan for past roof and renovation projects are repaid.