DARKE COUNTY – Commissioners are winding down their meetings with all county department heads to work to trim the county’s 2019 budget.
In July, commissioners were presented the proposed 2019 general fund budget from county auditor Carol Ginn, reflecting appropriations totaling $21,946,230.57 – a more than $1,000,000 shortfall.
According to Ginn, the county is currently losing approximately $800,000 in Medicare and Medicaid taxes.
In her proposal, Ginn stated “The budget submitted for 2019 must address the lost revenue from the elimination of the sales tax on Medicare and Medicaid services. In the absence of a revenue replacement mechanism, the commissioners must reduce the appropriations for 2019 by $1,084,311.57, which is the amount the current (2019) budget is in the red.”
For the past several weeks, commissioners have met with department employees to emphasize the need to trim budgets.
“We told them in July,” said Commissioner Mike Rhoades of the initial announcement. “They are preparing.”
It’s still unclear whether people or programs will most be affected by the county’s budget cuts.
Also in July, commissioners emphasized the fact the 2019 budget shortfall was not the fault of local county employees, rather cuts in revenue being made due to the elimination in sales tax related to managed healthcare organizations necessitated the changes.
Rhoades said Wednesday that once the county’s individual budgets are submitted and reviewed, a final budget will be prepared for approval, hopefully by mid-December.
Commissioners said Wednesday they do not want to resort to what other Ohio counties are doing to make up the shortfall – raise sales taxes, for example, which is what Montgomery County did, effective Oct. 1.
“We’re cutting to keep from raising taxes,” Rhoades said.
Also Wednesday, Commissioner Mike Stegall reported the former county home had recently passed inspection in order for it to house the county’s Michael’s Home facility – a group home for teenage boys. If all goes as planned, the move from the existing home to the county home facility will take place before the end of the year, Stegall said.
Down the road, commissioners hope to turn the current Michael’s Home facility into a similar home for teen girls.