Commissioners discuss budget concerns

By Kelsey Kimbler -

PREBLE COUNTY — Preble County Commissioners discussed budget concerns during their meeting on Wednesday, April 8.

Commissioner Rodney Creech asked if Auditor Lavon Wright had sent out her update yet. Commission Clerk Kim Keller reported Wright had sent an email indicating she was working on it. Wright requested a conference call to review the spreadsheet once she has it finalized.

Keller added, listening to a recent CCAO conference call, sales tax is supposed to be down 8.3 percent for the state for March and overall revenue was down over 10 percent just for March.

Keller suggested the board get in touch with elected officials to discuss their budgets and any concerns.

Commissioner Chris Day said they should meet with Wright first to review her presentation and then determine how they want to contact the elected officials.

“I don’t want to do a knee-jerk, but I want to stay ahead of this, because I don’t think we’re going to see the worst of this till the latter part of the year. I hate to say it, but this is going to be tough on some businesses. We may have some businesses that don’t survive this,” he said.

Commissioner Creech said that is going to depend on the Small Business Association (SBA) loans.

Commission President Denise Robertson said with information gathered from CCAO and Wright they can address the elected officials.

Creech added, sales tax is where the county is going to take the biggest hit. However, he doesn’t believe they need to think about cutting yet, but rather “pay attention.”

“We’re looking at over seven million dollars right now, if it goes to six we’re still okay. It is those counties that didn’t take the precautions we took. I just don’t want to be a doom-and-gloomer, because, like I said, we can cut back on — the only thing we have to do this year is the JFS building. If I remember, all the other stuff can be put on hold, ” he said.

He added, they have to be “cautious” but “not scared.”

Robertson said they have to be realistic as well and that there are businesses who are going to be shutting their doors after the COVID-19 crisis. Creech countered, there might be new businesses that come in after the crisis as well.

“I want to be optimistic, but I also want to be realistic,” Robertson said. “I think we need to implement – I don’t want to say implement policies — we need to give them directions of here is our best guess of where this economy is going to go, they’ll need to adjust their budgets accordingly.”

Robertson and Day reiterated, they’re afraid that Preble County is going to “take a hit” and they need to be realistic.

“We’re definitely going to take a hit, but we prepared for it,” Creech said. “What I’m saying is, you don’t prepare for five years for a hit, take the hit, and then reduce budgets. That is what we prepared for.”

Day countered, “I don’t think that is what we’re saying here. All we’re saying is, we need to make everyone aware there is going to be some bumps in the road here. Trust me, I don’t want to have to do a knee-jerk. I’ve been there and had to realistically do that, I don’t want to go through that again.

“I think my philosophy has been all along that we want to have that cushion there to go through this, but we also have to make the elected officials aware that we are all in this together again and we need everyone’s help to get through this. We still want to give you the resources you need, but we also have to look at this and say, if there is something that you’d like, maybe we should sit on this awhile until we get through this.”

Robertson added, “Thankfully, the big ticket items that we have spent, we did it at the perfect time, because we really don’t have any big ticket things that are needs. I am very thankful we’ve been as conservative as we have and we have that cash balance.”

She reiterated they should be optimistic, but realistic to “taking a hit.”

“We just need the elected officials to know and hopefully we’re all in this together and we’ll weather it together,” she said.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH