Trumbull Commissioners reset budget hearings after failing to no - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Trumbull Commissioners reset budget hearings after failing to notify media

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WARREN, Ohio -

Questions following department budget hearings in Trumbull County center around why the media wasn't notified about those meetings last week and whether some departments could be forced to cut back on spending.

Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka says the failure to notify the media about the hearings was an "unfortunate mistake". To ensure transparency, he's asked for those hearings to be rescheduled for December 8.

"Our journal clerk made a mistake. She admitted to it. It's unfortunate, we've rectified it," Polivka said. 

"I requested that the budget hearings be on the internet on the tape and I'm for having the hearings over again to show total transparency."

21 News listened to the audio recordings where discussions over salaries and costs going up at the sheriff's office can be heard, but at one point, the conversation is abruptly cut off.

You can hear Sheriff Thomas Altiere in the recording stating, "Since there's no media here, uh trinity come in ...," before the audio cut out.

The Vindicator questioned Wednesday what was really said after this point and why the hearings happened without media notification.

Sheriff Altiere said the conversation had to do with food costs at the jail. He explained that as the number of inmates at the jail goes up, the cost for food follows suit.

He asked for $3.9 million more next year than compared to 2016. He says any cuts to the budget proposal would mean pink slips for next year. 

"Of course if the budget gets cut, you have to layoff," Altiere said.

Altiere says salaries for younger ranks are going up and some areas within the jail, including flooring, needs repaired.

"The jail's going to be 20 years old. It's used 24 hours a day, seven days a week and after 20 years, things start breaking," Altiere said.

Polivka says any talk of potential layoffs in 2017 is premature. 

"I think it's too soon, I think it's a knee jerk reaction. I think we need to really be good stewards of the money," Polivka said. 

He says Trumbull County's sales tax rate is in the lower tier compared to other counties across Ohio. Polivka believes that's a selling point for the county. 

"I think we need to evaluate everything. There's some money that could possibly help with this shortfall and that will possibly be forthcoming, but right now I think to just come out and say 'yeah we need to impose a tax' is irresponsible," he said.

During the budget hearings last week, Commissioner Frank Fuda told 21 News that he was in favor of moving forward with plans to raise the sales tax by a quarter of a percent.

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