Morrow County Auditor, Pat Davies was cautiously optimistic about the county’s finances as she presented her report at the county officials meeting Jan. 9.
The county’s general fund revenue reached a total of $9,215,771.68 for 2016 with only four transactions to be finalized from the County Treasurer’s office.
Davies noted that is an increase in the total revenue over the past three years, as compared to the 2015 total of $9,099,622.81 and 2014 of $8,364,858.59. The largest amount of revenue was from sales tax in the county totaling $3,942,166.32. That is a 2.28 percent increase from the 2015 sales tax and up 22.42 percent from 2013 sales tax. The local government tax stayed the same at $442, 500 over the past three years while the casino tax also saw a small change at $415,098 up from $407,234 for 2015.
The Auditor’s office has been getting many calls this week about the increase that is showing on property tax billing. She said this is from the new roads levy which was passed in 2016. The fund for the Engineer’s fund for roads and bridges is completely separate from the general fund. Money in the Engineer’s fund comes from gas tax, motor vehicle and license tax, and now the road levy. However, money from the road levy will not be coming in until March for the additional road improvements.
Real estate property tax continues to be another large portion of county revenue in the general fund. The 2016 real estate tax totals $2,470,868.66. Real estate conveyance fees were $458,908.14 and County Court fines were $364,354.54 in 2016. Other office fees totaled $3,961,372.44. Office fees include 25 categories such as Auditor’s fees, Recorder’s fees and Sheriff’s fees.
The largest portions (about two thirds) of the County General Fund go to the courts, sheriff/corrections, insurance and maintenance. Only about one third is appropriated for the offices of the county officials and departments. There are also separate funds for departments that are funded by grants or state and federal dollars. Examples are the Emergency 911 fund, Soil and Water, Dog and Kennel, and Public Assistance/Job and Family Services.
Commissioner, Tom Whiston pointed out that the county must deal with a loss of revenue from the state of about $450,000 this year through 2018 as the state phases out managed health care dollars. Whiston will go to Columbus this week to ask state officials how they plan to fill this loss for the county.
Both Warren Davis and Burgess Castle commented that they have a lot to learn the first year as new commissioners. Castle added later that one of the frustrations commissioners must deal with is unfunded mandates from the state legislature. The county had to deal with that this year as the state requires raises for employees, but provide no money to fund those raises.
Davies emphasized that she is optimistic about the finances for the future in Morrow County. However, she added that there is also a need for departments to be conservative and work as a team as they see losses in state revenue and deal with uncertainties in the economy.
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