Mahoning, Trumbull counties shortchanged in funding bill (2024)

Mahoning, Trumbull counties shortchanged in funding bill (1)

When you see the dollar amount, $31 million coming to Mahoning and Trumbull counties from the state’s One-Time Strategic Community Investment Fund and the capital budget seems like a lot of money.

But based on population, the counties come up short in terms of the money they will receive from the two pots of money that were combined into one bill and approved Wednesday.

The capital budget, approved every two years by the General Assembly, provides funding to public universities, state parks, the school facilities commission, public works projects, jail and prisons, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio State Fairgrounds. The $4.2 billion spending package also includes about $150 million for community projects, mostly related to arts and recreation.

The $700 million One-Time Strategic Community Investment Fund is a one-shot infusion of money. It comes from unused federal COVID-19 funding and money not spent by the state from its general revenue fund because of the pandemic.

State Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said the $700 million “gives the General Assembly an opportunity to reinvest in our communities. It gave many organizations a second chance for funding” because they were either ineligible or weren’t funded in the capital budget.

Huffman added: “These are projects that people notice because they make a difference every day in their neighborhood.”

In other words, state legislators, most of whom are Republicans, can point to the money they brought back to their district when running for reelection.

Mahoning and Trumbull counties are getting about $31 million total from the state.

Of that amount, Mahoning County is getting $22.35 million while Trumbull is receiving about $8.35 million.

Mahoning is getting considerably more than Trumbull because the pot of money includes a lot of funding for state universities.

Mahoning has Youngstown State University, which is getting $12.7 million of these dollars, while Trumbull has a Kent State campus that is receiving $326,196. That is for a roof replacement at its library-theater building.

Mahoning makes up 1.9% of Ohio’s population yet it is getting 1.2% of the $700 million one-time fund and 0.9% of the community projects’ part of the capital budget.

Trumbull makes up 1.7% of the state’s population. It’s getting 1.1% of the one-time fund’s total and 0.5% of the capital budget’s community project dollars.

This capital budget allocations for the area were worse than in 2022 when Mahoning got $4.47 million and Trumbull got $2.01 million — and the capital budget was smaller two years ago.

Mahoning did better two years ago than the population percentages would dictate, getting 2.35% of the budget’s community project money. Trumbull still underachieved, getting 1.3%, but it was better than this year.

But as suspected, state legislators from the area were touting the allocations — primarily pointing to the one-time fund that was included in the capital budget bill.

The largest local funding amount from this year’s combined funding package is $9.75 million for a new YSU student center. It’s 31% of the total money coming to Mahoning and Trumbull.

It also gets YSU out of a tight spot.

The replacement of Kilcawley Center, YSU’s student center, will cost about $40 million to $45 million with the initial plan calling for about $20 million to be raised from fundraisers and donors and the rest either borrowed or bonded.

The tight spot is because prior to the state funding announcement for Kilcawley, businessman Bruce Zoldan said he was pulling his family’s $5 million commitment — matching the largest financial gift ever given to YSU — over the board of trustees’ controversial decision to hire Bill Johnson, a former Republican congressman with no higher education experience, as the university’s president.

Without Zoldan’s money and before the state funding announcement, the university had raised about $3 million for the student center.

The rest of the Mahoning money is going to projects including $1.5 million for Animal Charity of Ohio’s new building in Boardman, $1 million for the Mahoning Valley Community School’s Community Learning Center in Youngstown and $875,000 for the West Branch school district’s Regional Community Education and Wellness Training Center.

Trumbull’s funding includes $2.15 million for Cortland’s safety-service complex and training center, $1.5 million for West Warren Industrial Park improvements and $1 million for the Holy Trinity Orthodox Christian Academy and Preschool in Warren.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.

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Mahoning, Trumbull counties shortchanged in funding bill (2024)
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