To date, the county budget has not yet reached certification, meaning the revenue projected in January for the fiscal year ending later this month — $3.95 million — has not yet been realized by the county through real estate and sales tax collections, fees and other sources. County Auditor Mary Byer-Hill said Friday she expects that certification to be met by year’s end.
At a recent meeting of the Ohio County Commissioners Association, Meigs commissioners heard distressing financial news from county leaders across the Buckeye State. Some counties are facing budget cuts of nearly half, putting county workers out of work and forcing county departments to work barebones operations. Counties experiencing difficulties financially range in size, population and location, but some counties in southeastern Ohio are facing major budgetary crises.
Mick Davenport, president of the board, is serving his eleventh year in office. He said commissioners have cut budgets twice in those years, two years in a row, at five and 15 percent. Since those days in the early 2000’s, commissioners have been able to continue appropriations at present levels.
As always, commissioners are racing against a clock while planning county finances for the new year. Preparation of next year’s budget must wait until at least next week. Monday is the final day for county departments to submit their bills for payment from 2009 funds. Once those bills and the final payroll of Dec. 23 are paid, commissioners will have a general idea of how much money will be available — at least on paper — to carry in to 2010.
Commissioners cite unexpected costs as the primary cause of this year’s tight year-end balance. Two murder cases cost several departments a lot of money. Autopsy costs have been far more than commissioners anticipated early this year. The costs of expert witnesses and other expenses have affected the county’s bottom line.