Friday, May 11th, 2012
By Amy Kronenberger
Auglaize County's future looking bright
  WAPAKONETA - Record high sales tax revenue and low unemployment put Auglaize County in position for a promising future.
"We truly believe we have an awesome story to tell," commissioner Doug Spencer said Thursday during the Wapakoneta-Area Chamber of Commerce's State of the County address in Wapakoneta. "From generation to generation, we believe in working hard and leaving something better than we found it."
Auglaize County residents dream big while maintaining conservative, responsible values, and those values lead to success, he added.
Sales tax revenue was $2 million in the first quarter of 2012, approximately 9 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2011.
Last year was record-breaking for the county, with overall sales tax revenues of $7.09 million; the previous record was $7.03 million in 2008.
"So 2008 was our banner year and our banner year by far, and we finally eclipsed that amount," Spencer said. "It may have only been by about $60,000, but we finally topped it."
Sales tax revenue was $6.3 million in 2009 and $6.5 million in 2010.
Spencer commended area business owners and new retail outlets for their efforts in 2011. He also credited strong, established businesses that have expanded, including Dannon and Veyance.
"People are coming to Auglaize County and spending money," he said. "We're very appreciative of the entrepreneurs in the area."
Sales tax revenue makes up more than 51 percent of the county's overall budget, Spencer added.
The county's general fund had $12.9 million in revenue and $12.4 million in expenditures in 2011. In 2010, revenues totaled $12.8 million and expenditures were $12.3 million.
The carryover allowed commissioners to offer a 2 percent salary increase for county workers in 2012. Workers received a one percent raise in 2011 and 2010 after a pay freeze in 2009.
Auglaize County's unemployment rate of 6.4 percent in March was one of the lowest in Ohio. The state average was 7.8 percent and the national rate was 8.4 percent for the same time period.
"We're on a good, positive track, albeit we're very aware the bubble could pop at any time and the bottom could fall out," Spencer said said. "But we're ready for that."
Spencer also discussed the $8.3 million courthouse renovation project that will be paid in full by its completion this summer. Commissioners are planning an open house in September.
"Our philosophy is you have to have the funds before you do a project," he said.
County dog warden Russ Bailey reported he has sold 6,046 dog tags this year; he sold 6,315 in all of 2011. He took in 305 dogs last year.
Spencer commended Jobs and Family Services for its excellent work during the recession.
"Jobs and Family Services has been overwhelmed since the economic downturn," he said. "Yet they've been able to modernize their facility and help more families through that modernization. ... Jobs and family services has done an unbelievable job."
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