Morrow County budget will feel state cuts once again

By Alberta Stojkovic - The Sentinel

Alberta Stojkovic | The Sentinel Commissioners hearing of Morrow County tax budget - estimates for 2017

Morrow County elected officials and department heads had a reality check at the tax budget hearing last week.

The meeting began with County Auditor, Pat Davies presenting the estimates for the 2017 tax budget and noting that the requests from Morrow County officials and departments are $ 2.4 million over the estimated income and resources for 2017.

She said departments will have an opportunity to amend their budget requests before the year end when the budget for 2017 is officially approved.

Commissioner, Tom Whiston delivered the news that “managed funds from the state amounting to $486,000 will most likely be lost for Morrow County.”

These are funds obtained through sales tax on managed care health insurance. The cut is due to the federal government ruling that states can no longer collect sales tax on managed insurance funds.

“This could have a devastating effect on our county,” Whiston said.

Commissioner, Dennis Leader observed that the county came into the first quarter of 2016 with $250,000 balance in the

General Fund. That has dwindled to just over $100,000 over the budgeted balance. “We need to be conservative with our funds,” Leader said.

Davies said that another factor to consider is that sales tax revenues are slowing down this year and there is a “need to be cautious.” She encouraged people to shop locally for clothes, groceries and other goods here in Morrow County as much as possible.

Whiston thanked County Recorder, Dixie Shinaberry since she managed to lower her budget request for 2017. That bucks the trend of most departments that increased their estimates for the next year.

Some increases are mandated by the state and Whiston commented that it’s the job of the Commissioners, Auditor and Budget Commission to abide by the state’s constraints and mandates while staying within the county’s budget.

“The resounding issues out in the county are roads and safety,” Whiston said. “We appreciate Steve Brenneman’s work with the commissioners and look forward to working with John Hinton (on safety issues.)” Whiston said it’s fortunate the road levy passed, although those funds won’t be available until next year. There has also been significant support from the state for bridge repair and construction for the county.

In citizens’ comments Susan Sliger questioned the $1,000 the Commissioners gave for fireworks on the Fourth of July. Another citizen in the audience responded that funds from the Fourth of July activities would bring income into the county. She estimated the event would more than pay for the cost of fireworks.

Leader said that the county needs to increase the revenue stream with more growth in business and manufacturing.

“We can’t save our way into prosperity,” Leader added.

Commissioner, Dick Miller concluded the budget hearing saying that development is the key for the county. He stated that one more step forward was made by the Commissioners that morning with the approval of the agreement with Chesterville to improve the wastewater service at the I71/SR95 interchange. The purpose of the improvement is to facilitate development at that intersection.

Alberta Stojkovic | The Sentinel Commissioners hearing of Morrow County tax budget – estimates for 2017 Stojkovic | The Sentinel Commissioners hearing of Morrow County tax budget – estimates for 2017

By Alberta Stojkovic

The Sentinel

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