PREBLE COUNTY — Preble County Commissioners have approved the county’s 2019 budget.
The certificated amount is just under $14.5 million, with the board’s approved general fund at $13.9 million. According to Commission President Chris Day, this is an increase of half a million from last year.
“Certificated is what the budget commission has certified that is coming into the county. That is their best projection that money is coming in. Now, that can be more than that or less than that. This is my 10th year here and I’ve seen that come in lower and higher. They are basing their projections on what we have received the last year or two years. When we were looking at budgets, our area concern is that sales tax is down a little bit the last few months. Hopefully that is back up,” Commissioner Day said.
“The budget is up, obviously, which is good. Several years ago, when we had to do cuts, budgets went down considerably. Now, the one thing to take into consideration, over the years, due to raises and inflation, our budgets have increased over the years.
“We’re doing well as a county at this point, but due to the recent cuts over the last few years, we have to watch our spending. The key is expenditures don’t exceed receipts. Several years ago, when I first got into office, that had become an issue. That is what got the county into a financial crunch. I think we are doing very well. I give all the elected officials credit, because they have all watched their budgets very well, but our budgets are increasing due to inflation.”
Day also mentioned Commission Rodney Creech’s request for two additional employees for the Sheriff’s Office. Creech proposed hiring a corrections officer and a sheriff’s deputy, but neither Commissioner Day nor Commissioner Denise Robertson supported his proposal.
“My concerns there were, with the combination of the dispatch center — and I stated when we moved forward with that, I support it, but would not support any additional employees until we got that up and running — and school resource officers, the Sheriff’s Department is getting seven new employees this year. We will increase dispatch by three new employees and there are four new deputies for the school resource officers,” Day said.
“That being said, they are being paid by for the schools, but ultimately if anything happens, they are county employees. I feel good going forward, but I am very cautious if something happens and they lose funding, I realize we have agreements with them, but bottom line they are our employees and if something happens we are ultimately responsible for dealing with their cost.”
He added, they can revisit the proposal down the road, but he views it as the sheriff’s department seeing an increase of seven employees. He is also concerned with the expenditures exceeding receipts as the budget increases every year.
“That was a problem before I got elected. When I came into office, five of the previous six years expenditures exceeded receipts and that is why we got into a financial crunch. That will not happen again. I want to be out in front of this. A lot of our surrounding counties are having to do cuts because they are seeing the crunch already. I feel, we owe it to the tax payers to be in front of this so we don’t get in that position again,” Day said.
The Preble County Sheriff’s Office encompasses 40 percent of the general fund budget, which, according to Day, is typical across the state of Ohio. Broken down it means, 65 percent of the county’s budget goes toward law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, and children services. Day added, this is mostly due to the drug issue and trying to get it under control.
The board had several requests for additional funds this year:
•The prosecutor asked for additional money for his attorneys. Half of that request was approved and will be revisited next year.
•The treasurer asked for an additional employee, which was denied. She currently has a part-time employee and the board did not feel a full-time employee was necessary, especially considering the budget increase for benefits.
•OSU Extension was given extra money this year.
•The coroner requested a new car. Through Certificate of Title, Chris Washington pledged his leftover funds to purchase that vehicle.
“The one thing the residents need to understand, and I’m very proud of, we’ve done a lot of maintenance to our buildings and grounds. Things that have been let go for a long time, we are getting caught up on. We are putting money back into our facilities, so that if we do hit some lean times we can get through that,” Day said.
“Also, we owe it to the taxpayers to maintain our existing buildings and do things of that nature. We have invested money back into our buildings, grounds, and things of that nature. I think that is prudent for us to do that.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH