WARREN - Trumbull County is eligible for $1.275 million of the $75 million Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's Office has to tear down vacant and abandoned homes.
And the first $500,000 is free, so to speak.
''Recognizing that many local governments are experiencing economic hardships,'' DeWine's office is not requiring a match for the first half million allocated to each county, a news release from the state's top attorney says.
Mahoning County is eligible to receive up to $1.532 million of the funds.
Counties are required to match dollar-for-dollar any request over the $500,000, leaving Trumbull to try to raise $775,000, said Julie Green, grants coordinator with the Trumbull County Planning Commission.
If Trumbull is successful matching the $775,000 dollar-for-dollar, that means just a little over $2 million could be returning to the county.
Work already has begun.
About $114,000 has been pledged toward the grant application from Niles, Weathersfield, the City of Hubbard, Newton Falls, Brookfield, Girard, Howland, Hubbard Township, McDonald and Warren Township, Green said.
The rest will likely be from the Trumbull County Land Bank and Warren.
''I wanted more money than they put on the table, but we'll go after everything they put on the table,'' said county treasurer and president of the land bank board, Sam Lamancusa.
Lamancusa said he would probably present a tweaked version of a plan that would have the land bank issue a bond to leverage against the demolition dollars from the state, and then pay off the new debt using a portion of the penalty fees charged to delinquent property tax payments.
Mike Keys, Warren's director of community development, said, ''I know the mayor is always interested in making sure we get every dollar possible to eliminate blight in the city neighborhoods.''
A strategic planning meeting will be held to hash out the final details.
The money DeWine has is part of Ohio's share from a court settlement with the nation's largest mortgage servicers over foreclosure abuses, fraud and unacceptable mortgage practices.
The total amount of funding available to each county is based on the percentage of foreclosure filings in each county between 2008-2011 divided by the total amount of funding, $75 million.
The first round of applications will be accepted through June 30 and grants will be awarded Aug. 1. Demolition work must be completed by Dec. 31, 2013.
Funds may be reallocated if no application is submitted or funds aren't spent on eligible reimbursement projects.
Conservative estimates put the number of vacant and abandoned properties in Ohio needing demolition immediately at about 100,000.
''One of the biggest things holding this state back from moving forward is the vast number of abandoned and vacant homes littering Ohio,'' DeWine said in the release. ''They are blight on our communities, rotting them from the inside out.''