Heath auditor Keith Alexander and Mayor Richard Waugh are requesting a meeting with the Licking County Budget Commission regarding distribution of local government funds.

Heath auditor Keith Alexander and Mayor Richard Waugh are requesting a meeting with the Licking County Budget Commission regarding distribution of local government funds.

The budget commission consists of the county prosecutor, county auditor and county treasurer. The commission controls local government funds collected through "state general-revenue tax sources," said J. Terry Evans, Licking County auditor.

The commission may distribute the funds according to the state's formula or choose to use an alternate formula. The alternate formula Licking County uses was approved by local governments in the early 1970s.

"I think the reason they did that (establish an alternate formula) was because a lot of those small townships and corporations would not have gotten a lot of money," Evans said.

Heath law director Richard Bindley said Heath was a young city when the agreement was made and city officials did not object to the funding distribution at the time, partly because of the city's situation.

"In the early '70s, there were more jobs than residents (in Heath) -- good jobs," he said, mentioning Pure Oil, Kaiser Aluminum, Rockwell and the Newark Air Force Base.

Estimates from the Ohio Department of Taxation show Heath could receive $106,068.22 in 2009. The estimated breakdown for the rest of the cities and villages follows: Alexandria, $33,050.24; Buckeye Lake, $11,529.15; Granville, $195,227.02; Gratiot, $23,058.31; Hanover, $34,587.46; Hartford, $32,281.63; Hebron, $92,233.24; Johnstown, $78,398.25; Kirkersville, $34,587.46; Newark, $2,201,299.94; Pataskala, $96,076.29; St. Louisville, $43,810.79; Utica, $57,645.77; and Reynoldsburg, $7,686.10.

The county is expected to collect an estimated $7,686,103.13 in local government funds in 2009.

Evans said Licking County should receive half of that amount -- an estimated $3,843,051.57.

Figures from the Ohio Department of Taxation show the county's 25 townships will split the rest, with most townships receiving $23,000 to $46,000.

Waugh said Heath officials want to investigate the possibilities and understand how the funds are distributed.

"We just want to find out how the system works," he said.

Alexander said Heath is "somewhat a center of trade and generates a lot of sales tax," but it receives a small share of the taxes overall.

He said it doesn't hurt to ask about the fund distribution.

Bindley said he and former Mayor Dan Dupps had asked for a copy of the local-government-funds agreement three years ago to review it, but he did not receive a copy.

Evans said he was not in office when the agreement was made.

"I think the state formula (for distribution) is based on need," he said. "The formula was put together using six years of information, and I think they tried to protect small townships and village with the alternate formula."

Evans said the agreement could be changed, but it would require the county, Newark and a majority of all of the rest of the governments involved to agree to the changes.

Evans said the county has had some inquiries about the local government fund in the past, but he said it is unlikely that all parties would agree to change the distribution rates.

"If you give more to somebody, somebody's going to get less," Evans said.

The Licking County Budget Commission is expected to meet in October.

Last week, Heath City Council voted to accept the amounts and rates "as determined by the budget commission." Alexander said time constraints kept Heath officials from meeting with the budget commission prior to council's vote on the resolution that would allow Heath to receive the funding.

The budget commission also reviews state library funds and approves tax rates once they are set, Evans said.

lwince@thisweeknews.com