PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Commissioners will work to approve the 2016 budget in coming weeks, after six meetings over a two week period determined next year’s budget for Preble County Departments.
Currently the county budget is expected to come in around $713,197.54 more than the budget for 2015, with a total of $12,006,374.72.
About a third of the extra expense is due to 2016 featuring 27 pay periods compared to 26 normally. According to Commissioner Chris Day, the extra pay period is adding “roughly $215,000” extra to the 2016 budget.
The Preble County Sheriff’s budget was also a reason for the increase in expected costs for the 2016 fiscal year. Outside of the expected increase for the 27th pay, was the addition of a new detective on the force who was approved by commissioners earlier this year.
The added position increased the budget by $65,000 for the year, but gives the department a second full-time detective for the first time since the 2009 budget cuts.
One sticking point in the budget was the switching of one employee to a full-time dispatch supervisor, which is expected to increase the budget by $24,631.
The move is in anticipation of potential legislation in the state of Ohio requiring new standards for 9-1-1 dispatch centers, which includes at least one full-time supervisor for the center.
Commissioner Denise Robertson felt the switch to a full time dispatch supervisor could be put on hold until the year 2017, saying she felt too many unknowns still existed.
Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson noted, however, “We don’t want to be behind the eight-ball,” for the move. He pointed out, the would-be dispatch supervisor has over 40 hours of training to be completed in the next two years before the move can be made.
Robertson questioned if a full two years were necessary for the training and argued they are only behind the “eight-ball” because the state has yet to decide what requirements and changes will be made to dispatch center regulations.
There is also an additional “courier” position to be added to the department’s budget at the request of juvenile court.
The position will be added to aid in transportation of juveniles who are to be seen by the courts. It will add an additional $31,000 to the expense budget, with a total increase between $42,000 and $56,000 once insurance and P.E.R.S are added. Juvenile Court has agreed to pay $6,000 of the salary.
The Preble County Board of Elections was the only other major increase in the budget, as the department looks to upgrade to “E-poll books” as well as upgrade the department’s scanners used to read votes.
Director of the Preble County Board of Elections Terry Hans explained the reason for the upgrades: “We are trying to cut down on provisional ballots, the state would like everyone to be on it (E-poll book.)”
She added, the E-poll will replace the signature book as well as the poll book, and said eventually should allow the county to move to a paperless polling system.
Hans added, the department will continue to use its current system as a backup system in 2016 since the election will be a presidential election.
“The big item on the budget is the M-100 optical scanners,” Hans stated, adding the department has had the current scanners since 2006 and they are “showing their wear and tear.”
Currently the department has 51 scanners but is looking to replace them with 36 new scanners since according to Hans; they are more efficient in counting votes. The county is also currently looking into options to have those machines reimbursed by the state, Hans said.
Overall, Hans explained, the new equipment should make the voting process more efficient and quicker for voters when coming to polls in Preble County.
Hans noted the first year might not be more efficient as workers learn the system, but noted the March election and Special Election for John Boehner’s seat in the United States Congress in June should give the department enough practice before the Presidential Election in November of 2016.
The Preble County Commissioners will be looking to pass temporary appropriations for the 2016 budget on Wednesday, Dec. 9, if the 2016 Estimated Resources are received from the Budget Commission. According to County Clerk Connie Crowell, once that is received the commissioners will be considering the 2016 temporary appropriations.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH