Clark County’s $178M budget includes raises, repair projects

Clark County’s proposed $178 million budget for this year include raises, as well nearly $425,000 in cuts as it faces a loss of about $1 million in sales taxes due to changes from the federal government.

Personnel cuts could be examined in 2018 as the county prepares for a total annual loss of about $3 million in sales tax.

The county expects to bring in about $39.4 million in its general fund but spend about $43 million. The county will use about $4.1 million left over from last year to cover both the spending deficit and pay for projects.

The general fund budget includes $1.8 million in requests for capital projects and other funding from Clark County departments and other agencies for next year, including about $334,000 for the Community Improvement Corp. and about $140,000 for the National Trail Parks and Recreation District.

MORE: Clark County could cut $425K next year

The county received about $10.9 million in requests, including $8 million from the Clark County Fairgrounds for a new multi-purpose building.

Clark County Administrator Jenny Hutchinson discussed the budget Wednesday with commissioners, including newly elected Melanie Flax Wilt and Lowell McGlothin. Commissioners will vote on the budget next week.

The federal government will end in June the state’s collection of sales taxes on services from Medicaid managed-care organizations — such as Dayton-based CareSource. The county may lose about $1 million this year and $3 million in 2018.

It’s still possible Ohio counties could receive relief from the state government this year, County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said.

Several agencies saw their funding cut by 3 percent — the same as the county requested of its own departments.

“It’s only fair that if we request our departments to do that, (other agencies) should do that as well,” Hutchinson said.

County departments will be asked to cut their budgets from 5 to 7 percent for 2018 to cover the sales tax losses, which could include both operation and personnel costs. The goal is to get the information out to department leaders this year as soon as possible so they can start preparing, she said.

PRIOR COVERAGE: Federal change will cost Clark County $3M

The budget also includes 2-percent cost of living raises for non-union employees in the general fund at a cost of about $235,000, Hutchinson said.

“It may be the last time we can do it,” Lohnes said.

The sheriff’s office and Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts office will review their budgets with county leaders once the newly elected Sheriff Deb Burchett and Clerk of Courts Melissa Tuttle are settled in next month, Lohnes said.

The sheriff’s budget is about $15 million, the largest item in the county’s general fund budget. The clerk’s office receives about $775,000 from the general fund.

The county’s total budget includes about $37 million for the Clark County Department of Job and Family Services.

The Clark County Historical Society will receive $25,000 to make repairs to the roof at the Heritage Center, which is owned by the county.

RELATED: Clark County youth jobs program that faced elimination to continue

The fairgrounds will receive $25,000 to make safety improvements, adding chain link fence to the bleachers at the grandstand.

“We felt it was an item that needed to be addressed right away,” Hutchinson said.

She recommended giving the CIC about $329,000, but commissioners chose to increase the amount by about $4,850. The money had been recommended to go to the Small Business Development Center.

“The CIC is a very important part of the county, bringing in jobs,” McGlothin said.

The county also decided against giving $25,000 to both Interfaith Hospitality Network and the Salvation Army for emergency shelters, as well as $7,500 to the New Carlisle Fire Department to purchase specialty EMS equipment. The requests are worthwhile, but if funded, it could lead to more requests from similar agencies, Hutchinson said.

“You’ll never get that genie back in the bottle,” Lohnes said.

The county recently hired a consultant to help bring more retail to Clark County — which could help increase sales tax collections, he said. They’re currently scouting locations with county officials, Lohnes said.

“The more locations, the better,” he said.

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