Budget cuts at the state level again have put Seneca County commissioners in an awkward position.
Actually, reductions in funding for local governments and schools that are part of the current two-year budget enacted last summer initially made budgeting difficult for mayors, trustees, council members, school board members and library directors statewide.
The biennial budget called for a 50-percent reduction in the share of state sales tax local governments and school districts had been sharing. We've already weathered the first cutback, with the other half of the reduction coming now.
Gov. John Kasich and the state legislators who voted for the budget put the onus on local officials to cut their budgets or raise taxes, while encouraging local governments and schools to find ways to operate more efficiently, particularly by sharing resources and services.
Governments and schools in Seneca County are to lose a combined $6.1 million over those two years - not counting the impact of loss of estate tax, 80 percent of which helps local governments. The only new revenue stream began trickling in this month, when the county received its share of a tax on gross revenues at the state's new casinos. That tax is expected to provide the county $209,000 this year, $756,000 in 2013.
Tuesday, the board of commissioners discussed a request from Green Springs Village Council for a share of the casino revenues. A resolution from the council asks the board to distribute the funds in the same manner local government funds are disbursed.
This puts commissioners in an awkward position. An amendment to the state consitution states casino tax revenues are to be distributed to counties, schools and cities where the casinos are located. What officials at those levels do with the funds is up to them.
This likely won't be the last time commissioners are asked to share the revenues. While it's not a problem of their making, it would be difficult for the board to deny such requests.