Commissioners approve budget for 2014

With the old year wrapped up and the new year just beginning, the Washington County Commissioners have cemented appropriations for the 2014 county budget.

The commissioners approved the final budget at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Commission President David White said there are a few big changes to this year’s budget.

“The first is a larger share of the permissive tax going to the township and county highway departments,” he said. “Last year they received 24 percent, this year they receive 26 percent of the permissive tax.”

This increase will mean the townships and county can better maintain roads and bridges.

“Another big thing is the budget,” White added. “It’s about $600,000 less than last year. That brings us closer to a more structurally balanced budget.”

White said in the past, expenditures have exceeded revenue so the goal is to reduce the gap between the two this year.

Some departments saw some increases to their budgets while several received less money.

White said some big cuts happened in the Information Technology (IT) department. The appropriation for 2014 was scaled back nearly $100,000 from 2013 appropriations.

“IT was overloaded with projects last year,” White said. “That’s a big part of what we scaled back this year.”

White said one of the main priorities when balancing the county’s budget is to make sure the requests of each department are legitimate.

“We need to make sure we’re not spending more than we’re bringing in,” he said. “It’s never fun to cut anybody, but realistically it has to be done.”

White said every department asked for more money for 2014’s budget than in 2013.

“Everybody’s getting less than they asked for,” he said, adding that many departments are asking for help.

“They’re overburdened,” White said. “They need more money to hire staff. When that doesn’t happen the public doesn’t get proper services…Typically you don’t have as much money as you’d like to spend.”

Some departments that received quite a bit more money than last year are the County Prosecutor for salaries and benefits for a new hire, the Common Pleas and Probate courts for increases in salaries and some for benefits, the Juvenile Center and Family and Children Services for an increase in staff and the Township and County Highway departments for road and bridge maintenance.

Commissioner Ron Feathers said the process for finalizing the budget was long and sometimes difficult.

“It’s very lengthy and tenuous at best,” Feathers said. “We have a great team and a great group of people here.”

The following departments were appropriated the following amounts in comparison with last year’s actual spendings:

Agriculture (Soil and Water Conservation, Fair Board, Extension Office, etc): $389,000, with no increase from last year

County Auditor: $365,000, an increase from $354,000

County Prosecutor: $605,000, an increase from $546,000

Clerk of Courts: $397,000, an increase from $360,000

Jury Commission: $10,000, an increase from $9,000

County Treasurer: $174,000, a decrease from $184,000

Recorder: $285,000, an increase from $250,000

Board of Elections: $530,000, an increase from $519,000

Information Technology (IT): $355,000, a decrease from $358,000

Common Pleas court: $484,000, an increase from $442,000

Probate court: $987,000, an increase from $932,000

Building and grounds: $1.5 million, with no increase from last year

Juvenile Center: $1.4 million, an increase from $1.2 million

Coroner: $96,000, a decrease from $104,000

HR and Safety Coordinator: $62,000, with no increase from last year

Tax Map Department: $58,000, an increase from $48,000

Veterans Affairs: $235,000, an increase from $205,000

Economic Development (Port Authority, OSU, Historical Society, etc.): $202,000, a decrease from $216,000

Township and County Highways: $2 million, an increase from $1.7 million

Family and Children Services: $1.27 million, an increase from $1.15 million

Commission Office: $693,000, an increase from $686,000