- Michael Cooper Staff Writer
Clark County commissioners approved a $170 million budget on Wednesday, including a $43 million general fund, as cuts loom in the future.
The county is projected to generate about $39.1 million in general fund revenue this year, down from about $41 million in 2017. The reduced revenue projection is directly related to a loss of about $2.6 million due to federal changes to sales taxes approved last year, Clark County Administrator Jenny Hutchinson said.
The county is projected to spend about $43.1 million next year, up from about $39.4 million. It’s budgeted to use up to $4.5 million left over from last year to balance its budget.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office budget is about $15.2 million, the largest item in the county’s general fund. It includes hiring four new detectives at the sheriff’s office to combat the opioid epidemic throughout the county, at a cost of about $234,000, Hutchinson said. The sheriff’s office also will spend $80,000 to purchase guns for deputies.
County Commissioners Melanie Flax Wilt and Lowell McGlothin both want to re-examine the sheriff’s budget later this year as vacancies take place and are filled. McGlothin also wants to purchase a new body scanner at the Clark County Jail.
“I don’t have a clear enough idea of that rolling personnel in order to say we need to change the budget numbers today, but I want to look at that in the next month or so and make sure we’re not tying their hands,” Flax Wilt said.
The general fund budget also included a 2 percent cost of living increase for all non-union county employees at a total cost of about $243,000.
The county might make cuts in the future, Hutchinson said, but job losses aren’t expected to take place this year.
The county has at least $8 million in contingency funds to balance the budget in the future, Clark Commissioner Rick Lohnes said.
“We’re saving money so that next December when we’re writing the budget, we’ll have what we need,” Lohnes said. “The real test will be writing the budget in December of 2019. It could be a real test for how much money will be around for 2020.”
The federal government ended the state’s collection of sale taxes on services from Medicaid managed-care organizations — such as Dayton-based CareSource — as of last June.
Clark County had collected about $3 million in Medicaid Health Insuring Corp. sales taxes annually, according to state data — making up more than 12 percent of its sales tax revenue. The county is expected to receive up to $6 million in transitional funding from the state over the next two years to soften the blow of the elimination of the sales tax.
It has already received about $3 million from the state and may receive another $3 million payment this month, Lohnes said. A third payment may be coming in October, he said.
“It gets us through (2019) and should have some for (2020), but we won’t know until we calculate the exact numbers of loss and see the revenues we’re bringing in,” he said.
Since the change, Clark County has seen less revenue from sales tax, including about a $200,000 less in receipts this month than it saw in January of 2017.
In order to increase sales tax revenue, the county must continue to increase economic development to bring more people and more jobs to the community, Lohnes said.
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