Commissioners agree to closely monitor county budget

By Nancy Schaar
FPS Correspondent


Budget meetings with office holders and the proposed budget by the county auditor were topics of discussion   at recent commissioners meetings.

Auditor Lynn Fairclough and Deputy Auditor Stacy Taylor provided figures to show that for 2018 commissioners will have much less to provide to county departments.

At this time, it appears there will be more than a $900,000 shortfall for next year compared to the amount projected for 2017.

“If we do not increase spending until December, we will increase the general fund,” said Commissioner Jeff Ohler.

“The permissive taxes are down about one million from 2015.  If you are frugal at the end of the year, it will increase your carryover more than what we are projecting now,” said Fairclough.

Funds requested from office holders for their budgets for 2017 totaled $6.1 million according to Taylor, but requests for 2018 are at $8.3 million.

Commissioner Bob Wirkner said taxes received from the wired telephone lines previously funded the salaries of three deputies, providing more than $80,000 a year.  The number of wired telephone lines has dwindled and the fund brings in about $30,000 per year, not enough to cover the salary ofone deputy.

Commissioners agreed the budget will require close monitoring in the coming months.

Prosecuting Attorney Steven Barnett appeared to discuss his 2018 budget with commissioners last week.

Barnett said keeping a good assistant prosecutor is only possible by providing good pay.  Barnett advised that there are no issues with his budget but in accordance with state statute, the line for salary has increased for next year.

Commissioners questioned the re-hiring of one office worker following her retirement last year.  Ohler questioned the matter because two office workers were given increases in salary upon the retirement of the third clerk.

The clerk was re-hired at her previous rate and also given an increase in pay but the other two employees remained at the same increased rate of pay.

“Yes, I hired her back. She had 15 years of experience,” said Barnet.

“Everyone is fighting the same battle when it comes to retention of staff,” said Wirkner.

Also in regards to next year’s budget, County Recorder Patti Oyer told commissioners she may have some extra expenses due to updating the computer system next year.

Oyer questioned commissioners about a $299 per month bill she has been receiving from a computer contractor that she does not have a contract or agreement with.  Commissioners will seek more information regarding those billings.

Sandy Smith, OSU Extension Director told commissioners her department lost another 4-H educator in December. Smith said the state is asking for her to hire a program assistant instead of an educator in hopes of retaining that employee.

County treasurer Jeff Yeager provided the quarterly report to commissioners which brought encouraging news. Total funds on deposit are $22,732,212.  The amount at this time last year was $24,822,328.

Interest earned in the second quarter totaled $26,828.  Interest for the same quarter in 2017 was $12,835.

Yeager said interest income is much better this year over last year.

“We earned about $55,000 last year but I expect we will earn about $100,000 this year.  Several certificates of deposit are coming due soon as well,” he said.

Commissioner Clerk Janice Leggett reminded commissioners they established rules related to weekly meetings as of March 2015.

Meetings were set at Monday and Thursday’s at 9 a.m.  Appointment’s for the meetings will begin at 9:15 a.m.  Executive sessions will be held at the end of meetings.  Any department may ask to be placed on the agenda but must do so by noon on the previous day. This will give clerk’s time to prepare materials needed and will give commissioners time to review the issue to be presented.

All documents must be signed by department officials prior to meetings and before commissioners sign the final documents.

Commissioners agreed that these rules still apply and will be enforced.

Commissioner Lewis Mickley provided information he received from County Health Commissioner Leann Cline.  He said after carefully working through her budget for 2018, Cline found there will be about a $300,000 shortfall for her budget next year.

Cline is anticipating requesting a levy be placed on the ballot in November to bring in funding for her department for the coming years. The next step in that process will be for Cline to send a letter to commissioners stating that there is an insuffiency of funds for 2018.  If commissioners determine there is a need, the levy will be sent to the Board of Elections.

A second public hearing was held as required for Community Development Block grant funding.

Consultant Rebecca Hall said projects expected to be funded with the next grant cycle include High St. in Sherrodsville at $25,300, paving of McCarty Lane in Dellroy at $13,300, paving of Lovers Land and Maple St. at $42,000, paving of Jack St. in Lee Township, handicap accessibility at the health department at $7,270, and administration for fair housing at $30,000.

A public hearing was also held for Regional Planning with Regional Planning Director Valerie Mossor.  Proposed changes to subdivision regulations include requirements for sewage treatment system rules according to administrative codes.

Other changes are in language regarding group disposal plant systems, individual sewage treatment systems and changes in preliminary plat fees and final plat fees to $100 plus $10 per lot.

In other business commissioners:

– APPROVED bids through the Ohio Public Works Commission for bridge replacements on Bedrock Rd. at a cost of $57,330, Aster Rd., $112,500; Picador Rd., at $118,800; and Snow Rd., $25,042.

– ACCEPTED a bid from Dayton Excavating for $45,104 for the installation of two septic systems.  Also accepted a bid from Dayton Excavating for $35,396 for two additional septic systems.  Both are through the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund.

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