Local Government Funds…another chapter…updated 9/5/23

Updated September 5, 2023 with Prosecutor Chuck Coulson’s Supplemental Opinion to the Lake County Commissioners and Budget Commission dated August 23, 2023


By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

We have been following the distribution of the local government funds issue for quite some time. Our goal is to keep all interested citizens informed on this issue as it makes its “twists and turns” through the legal process.

Here is a recent article we published on August 5, 2023 that summarizes our understanding of the issue at that point in time. Prosecutor Chuck Coulson expressed his legal opinion that the use of the “alternate formula” since 2012 by the Budget Commission has been “invalid”. Lake County Auditor Chris Galloway made an unscheduled appearance at the Commissioners’ meeting asking us to “pump the brakes” on rushing to a judgement that the distributions made since 2012 are illegal.

On August 8, 2023, we wrote the following article after the meeting with the Budget Commission and the representatives of the various Lake County municipalities that receive funding from the Local Government Fund. The attorney for Waite Hill and Kirtland Hills found some documents, unavailable to the Prosecutor’s office, that he believes makes the case that the use of the alternate formula is justifiable.

On August 22, 2023, we sent the following email to Lake County Auditor Chris Galloway.

Auditor Galloway,

As you know, I have been following the issue with the local government fund distribution.  Here is my current understanding of the issue. Please correct me if I am wrong.

1. Prosecutor Coulson claims that the current use of the 1982 alternate formula is “invalid”, because the Lake County Commissioners in 2012 decided that they no longer wanted to follow the 1982 alternate formula.

2. The attorney for Waite Hill and Kirtland Hills provided missing documents (not in the Prosecutor’s office or Budget Commission files) that clearly show that a meeting of a Budget Committee took place in 2012, but without any of the three Budget Commission members present.  How can that be a legitimate Budget Committee meeting without any representation of the Budget Commission, which consists of the Prosecutor, Treasurer, and Auditor?

3. Since the Budget Commission did not attend the meeting, there was no record in their files, or in the Prosecutor’s files, that a meeting took place.  However, since Mr. Coulson was the Prosecutor, and a member of the Budget Commission in 2012, he clearly should have known that the Commissioners passed the resolution stating that they no longer accept the alternate formula agreed to in 1982.

4. Prosecutor Coulson stated that he, in 2012, was sending his alternate to represent him in the Budget Commission meeting. In my opinion, that does not excuse Prosecutor Coulson of the responsibility of what his alternate representative does, or does not do, in a meeting.   The Auditor and the Treasurer also at the time had the duty and responsibility to question the legality of the alternate formula.  However, there is no record of anyone doing anything, other than them allowing the alternate formula to continue to be used.

5. You stated in the meeting that for the current year you will use the alternate formula that Prosecutor Coulson ruled is invalid.  If the State Attorney General, or ultimately a court, affirms Prosecutor Coulson’s decision, will the distribution for the current year be adjusted?

6. It has been stated by several elected officials that population has nothing to do with the “Alternate Formula”.  That is factually incorrect. The schedules that I have clearly state that population is a factor in the formula. Perhaps “need” surpasses “population” in the State mandated formula, however, no one seems to understand the State mandated formula.

Do you know who we would contact at the State to determine what taxes are collected from each municipality, and then are distributed by the State government via the local government funds? We are getting many calls on this issue, and we would like to clear up the misunderstandings.

We would like to determine how much has been collected from the various Lake County municipalities, and compare that to the amounts distributed to the municipalities by the alternate formula.

If Concord is a donor community, we would like the numbers to prove that statement.

Thanks for any help that you can provide the citizens of Lake County to better understand this issue.  We look forward to the Auditor’s answers on the amounts that would be distributed based on the State mandated formula.

Brian Massie
A Watchman on the Wall
Truth Conquers All
Lobbyists for Citizens
a 501 (c) (4) Non-Profit


We are waiting for another ruling by the Lake County Prosecutor, which should be shortly, on the claims made by the Waite Hill and Kirtland Hills attorney. If there is no new ruling, we will proceed to the State Attorney General’s office to see if they will weigh in our the issue.


Updated September 5, 2023

A public records request produced the following document. It is Lake County Prosecutor Chuck Coulson’s Supplemental Opinion date August 23, 2023 on the Local Government Fund for Lake County.

Prosecutor Coulson has rejected the Waite Hill, and Kirtland Hills attorney’s legal arguments and still maintains his original position.

“Therefore, it is still my opinion that the Budget Commission should seek the necessary approval to adopt an alternative method, and until an alternate method is approved, revert to the statutory method.”


LFC Editorial Opinion:

This issue is far from resolved, and there will be a great deal of discussion after Auditor Chris Galloway determines what the distribution to each municipality should have been under the State mandated formula.

Will there be a “claw back” of funds illegally distributed to the municipalities based on the illegal alternate formula? Will the townships get there “fair share” of the local government funds, or will they continue to be “donor” communities?

Should the Lake Metroparks and the Painesville Township Park get any of the local government funds?

Will the State of Ohio Attorney General weigh in on this issue, or will it require one the the municipalities to take this to court to get a ruling?

As a side note, although the Ohio Revised Code requires the Budget Commission to be represented by the County Prosecutor, Treasurer and Auditor, it is our opinion that the Prosecutor has a conflict of interest being on the Budget Commission as well as being the legal representation of the County Commissioners and Board of Developmental Disabled (Deepwood). This will require our State legislators to prepare legislation to fix the obvious conflict of interest problem.


Categories: Lake County - General, Uncategorized


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