Port would have to kick in $373K?owed county

LISBON – If the Columbiana County Port Authority would relocate to Lisbon, it would have to bring along the $373,000 owed county commissioners.

Commissioner Tim Weigle said that in exchange for moving into a new office building they want to build in town, commissioners would want the port authority to contribute the $373,000 toward its construction.

The Salem News reported Tuesday commissioners were offering to waive the $373,000 owed them if the port authority relocated, which Weigle said was incorrect.

Commissioners want to demolish the former welfare office building in downtown Lisbon, which was vacated last year when the county Department of Job and Family Services moved into the new county government services building.

Weigle told the port authority board on Monday that commissioners are considering constructing a new building on the site that would house the county development department. As part of the project, commissioners would also like for the port authority to move there since the purpose of both agencies is to promote and pursue economic development in the county.

He said if the port authority accepted their offer, commissioners would want the $373,000 owed to be used to help construct the new office complex.

According to the development department’s Pam Dray, the $373,000 is money commissioners obtained from the state to help fund the B-Telecom project at the port authority’s industrial park in Leetonia. The port authority later canceled its contract with B-Telecom after the company failed to live up to its contractual obligations and another IT firm was hired in its place.

Dray said the state required the money be repaid when the B-Telecom project never materialized, with commissioners having to take $373,000 from the county general fund.

“It was tied to project completion and job creation, and neither of that happened,” she said.