BELLAIRE The debate over designation fees continues as the JB Green Team searches for solutions to their budget shortfall created by loss of revenue from the discontinuation of out of state trash at the Apex Landfill.
The board voted to stay with the Phase I plan which they are currently operating under which means placing an additional to the property tax of up to $12.55 per improved parcel in both Belmont and Jefferson counties. This tax does not have to be voted on by the counties and will be assessed according to the proposal submitted to each county by the regional solid waste authority.
"It was a tough decision for the board," said Chairman and Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland. "Either we come up with the funding and we run it or turn it over to the EPA and they run it for us and we would much rather keep it local."
"We hope to be able to decrease the tax burden on citizens and implement a designation fee in the future, but for now ratification is not possible with Steubenville objecting to it's designation fees." Coffland added. "These designation fees are something I will continue to pursue, because oil and gas companies can be a great source of revenue."
"We will include those fees in the plan for 2015 and try again to get it implemented because we can make a lot of money off of designation fees and save all of our residents money at the same time," Coffland explained. "However, that all hinges on ratification of the 2015 solid waste plan."
Steubenville City Manager Tim Boland continued his opposition voicing the only vote against the proposed 2015 budget projection which was brought up before the board.
While the representative for the city made the motion to give Executive Director Cliff Meyer authority to determine the exact tax amount and submit it to the county auditors, he did so with the stipulation that there would be no designation fees included.
After several attempts to garner a second on the motion, the proposed tax passed unanimously.
Following an extensive executive session the JB Green Team board agreed to make adjustments to the Jefferson County Health Department budget which would increase funding from the $48,000 designated in pervious cuts raising the line item to last year's actual funding level of $70,000.
"We have reduced our payroll by three positions," Coffland explained. "We have found alternate funding for the two trash enforcement officers and been able to keep that program going."
It was reported that the Jefferson County 911 dispatch was not aware that the trash enforcement program was still up and running and had been turning away callers reporting illegal dumping activity.
Commissioner Coffland stated that there would be a follow up with Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and told the board that he would invite the Belmont County Litter Control Officer to the next meeting to give a first hand report on clean up and prosecution of illegal dumping in his county.
The next meeting of the board will take place on August 11 in Jefferson County.