web page consultants:
|01-15-03: Commissioners tighten Mercer County's belt
|By SEAN RICE
The Daily Standard
Mercer County Commissioners approved a tighter county operating budget
for 2003 on Tuesday, enacting an appropriation resolution with less spending than in 2002.
The general fund appropriation for 2003 was set at $8,629,906, which is
$35,051 lower than the 2002 appropriation of $8,664,957. The total appropriation for all
funds (general fund and outside funds) in 2003 is $37,268,474, down from $38,107,535 in
Mercer County Auditor Mark Giesige said the county is on stable
financial ground with a $1.3 million carryover balance entering 2003, but fiscal caution
needs to be exerted in the new year because in 2002 the county spent more money than it
In 2002 the county's carryover balance was $1.8 million. Approximately
$500,000 of it was needed for 2003 appropriations. Giesige said the county saw a $300,000
decrease in interest gained on invested money and a $200,000 increase in insurance costs.
With the setting of appropriations, commissioners created an outline of
how much revenue the county is expected to receive during the next year and how each
dollar will be spent. Aside from taxes, county revenue can come in the form of grants,
loans or fees.
The county's budget includes two main areas, the general fund and
The general fund includes the budgets of the commissioners, auditor,
treasurer, recorder, tax mapping office, sheriff, jail, prosecuting attorney, courts and
other county services.
The county's outside funds include the budgets of agencies that
commissioners do not control directly, including Mercer County Solid Waste, Tri-County
Mental Health Board, Mercer County-Celina City Health Department, Soil and Water
Conservation, Job and Family Services, Cheryl Ann Programs, Mental
Retard-ation/Developmental Disabilities programs, Workforce Investment Act and Mercer
County sanitary and engineering departments. Many of the funding levels of the outside
funds are fixed by the state.
Giesige on Tuesday said the county spent $55,000 more than it received
in 2002, the first time that has happened in several years. General fund revenue in 2002
was $8.11 million, while expenses were $8.16 million.
This year, all department heads were asked to give their employees only
a 1.3 percent cost-of-living raise, Giesige said. They were told the increase would have
to be absorbed in their respective budgets because the county was aware that
appropriations would not increase with 2003.
"We need to start concentrating on the general fund," Giesige
said of the coming year. "I don't think interest rates are going anywhere, and I can
see already that sales tax income is going down."
Giesige said having a carryover balance is not the same as excess money
because the county's finances can change dramatically from year to year. Respecting the
carryover is especially important this year, because state representatives have already
mentioned the legislature is considering cutting local government funding, Giesige said.
A complete cut of local government money would be $1 million less in
income for the county, which Giesige said would immediately lead to job cuts and reduction
of county services.
"Mercer County is in good shape. We're not nearly as bad as some
other counties," Giesige said. "But we worked hard to get ourselves in this
position and we're going to have to work even harder to maintain it."
SUBSCRIBE TO THE DAILY STANDARD
(419)586-2371, Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2002
The Standard Printing
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH