The Clark County Commission approved a $183 million budget including a nearly $47 million general fund for 2019.
The budget includes paying for expenses like county building upkeep, jobs and family services and criminal justice agencies like the sheriff’s office and the courts.
“I am pleased we were able to propose a balanced budget for 2019 but getting to that point becomes a little harder every year,” Clark County Commission President Melanie Flax Wilt said. “We are dealing with revenue challenges.”
One major project the commission approved was money for a renovation of the interior of the A.B. Graham building.
The over 100-year-old building has previously undergone an exterior renovation that included replacing windows and roof repair — but now it’s time to move inside. Issues inside the building include out-of-date electrical and HVAC systems, inefficient storage and an overall lack of modernity that people expect to see in the workplace.
The cost estimate is about $5 million and could take about two years to complete, Flax-Wilt said.
The A.B. Graham building houses the offices of the Clark County Auditor, Clark County Treasurer and the Clark County Recorder, as well as some Domestic Relations courts.
Another major project the commission is contributing to is the downtown Springfield parking garage. The garage will be built on the corner of Columbia Avenue and Fountain Avenue and the commission contributed $1 million for it.
The largest expense found in 2019’s budget was about $15 million to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office regularly has the highest expense as it runs several agencies under it including the Clark County jail.
The Clark County budget has been hit hard over the last two years due to state and federal law changes, Flax Wilt said. For instance, the county lost its the ability to tax Medicaid, resulting in a loss of about $3.1 million a year.
The state did give the county about $4 million as a transitional fund to help wean the county off the money, Wilt Flax said, but it is unclear if any additional transitional funds will be made available.
The commission has to be strategic with taxpayer’s money, Flax Wit said, and the commission feels it has put the county in its best position right now.
“We estimate revenue in 2019 of $42,608,292 yet our total budget is $46,932,864” the commission said in a statement sent to employees. “That’s due to carryovers from 2018 plus various funds that are returned by our elected officials.”
For instance, the commission credited Clark County Common Pleas Court of Clerk Melissa Tuttle and her office for returning more than $1 million from the title fund to help pay for expenses this year.
“We continue to be conservative with our budget in order to keep the county in a strong, sustainable position,” the letter from the commissioners says.
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.