Is more than $3.5 million higher than last year
Union County officials say they are pleased with the budget they have moving into 2020.
“I think the story is that it is pretty much status quo,” said Union County Administrator Tim Hansley.
The recently approved budget sets 2020 general fund appropriations at $26,838,378.54
Hansley said there were no major changes in the budget. Last year’s budget was set at $23.06 million.
The largest changes include an additional $1.27 million in the commissioners’ budget and a nearly $1 million increase in the sheriff’s office budget.
Letitia Rayl, assistant county administrator and county budget officer, said there could be changes to the sheriff’s office budget based on negotiations with the unions.
“So, what is in their accounts may not be accurate because we had to pass budgets based on some assumptions,” Rayl said.
She said the union negotiations have yet to be completed.
Budgeting for personnel costs in other departments was easier.
“Most of the employees were at the 3% cost of living increase,” Rayl said, though she noted that department heads and elected officials have discretion based on changing job duties and performance evaluations.
Rayl said this year’s budgeting was, “the best we’ve had so far,” adding that officials, “have it down to a pretty smooth process.”
“I think the cooperation between the office holders and department heads, and the board of commissioners and between Tim and I during the budgeting process has gotten better each year and we are at a point where we are all working together,” Rayl said.
Hansley said the county is “not flush with money but we are not looking to cut funding or reduce services.”
He explained that without the state’s assistance, however, the budget could have been more difficult.
“The state budget process was pretty kind to counties for the first time in a while,” Hansley said, noting the state government increased funding for adult probation officers, the indigent defense fund and children’s services.
“We probably would have been cutting back were it not for the state helping out,” Hansley said.
The 2020 budget was based on revenue projections by the Union County Auditor’s Office. County Auditor Andrea Weaver set her 2020 revenue projection at $26.84 million. As a comparison, Weaver set the 2019 revenue estimate at $24.19 million.
The auditor explained the county’s two “most significant” revenue sources are sales and real property taxes.
“As a conservative, I tend to lean towards a conservative sales tax estimate, taking into consideration any upcoming economic development projects as well as any other economic conditions that the county and/or surrounding area might be experiencing,” Weaver wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune.
Weaver estimated a $700,000 increase in real estate tax and $500,000 in increased sales tax revenue.
“For real property tax revenue, I consider the county-wide delinquency rates for the previous few years, making sure that I’m not estimating an amount that might be reduced by delinquent payment activity,” Weaver wrote.
The auditor also estimated a $300,000 increase in revenue from conveyance fees, a fee charged when real property transfers. She said conveyance fee revenue “requires a bit of forecasting.”
“Most of the other revenue sources require little to no estimating as their amounts are actually provided to us by the Ohio Department of Taxation; Local Government fees, for example,” Weaver wrote.
“The other is just everything other than the things listed (property tax, sales tax, conveyance, local government funds, casino revenue and interest),” said Amy Wesley, with the auditor’s office.
Weaver said her revenue estimate increase does include, “acknowledging some upcoming legislation with the indigent defense reimbursement rate, which is scheduled to increase mid-2020.”
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