County revenue shrinks


Wood County’s rosy revenue predictions of the past have taken on a gloomy hue. Interest income is
declining, sales tax revenue has plummeted, and foreclosures have taken a bite out of property tax
As required by Ohio law, the county commissioners met earlier this week to review revenue projections for
2010 and begin the budget process for next year.
"We’re just trying to figure out how much we’re going to have for next year," said Kristy Muir,
clerk of the board of county commissioners. "As you can see, some of the estimates aren’t real
While Wood County’s overall budget grew from $111 million in 2000 to $143 million in 2009, tough times
have led to a decline to $128 million in 2010. This drop can be attributed to not only the national
recession, but also to the higher costs of doing business, according to Muir. The general fund, which
funds the county commissioners office and some of the departments under its authority, is projected to
drop from $48 million this year to $40 million next year.
Less tax money is coming in, various county departments are struggling to make ends meet, and the
county’s once robust carry-over for the end of the year is shrinking.
"It’s eroding their cash balance," Muir said of the growing expenses and declining revenue.
Specific county offices have seen their revenues dwindling, such as:
¥ The building inspection department, which is suffering from the slowdown in the construction industry.
According to the budget report, the department has made hour and pay cuts, and its cash balance is being
used to compensate for decreased revenues.
¥ With the higher gas prices leading to fewer gallons being sold, the cash balance for the Motor Vehicle
and Gasoline Tax fund for the county engineer has also seen a "significant" decrease. The
beginning cash balance has dropped from $6.2 million in 2007 to $2.5 million in 2009.
¥ The Solid Waste Management District and county landfill are also being affected, since the recession
has led to local residents and industries dumping less trash – consequently paying less fees.
¥ Wood Haven Health Care, the county’s nursing home and physical rehabilitation center, has been
negatively affected by fewer admissions, since many families are keeping older members at home or
putting off non-essential surgeries, thus leading to less income at the facility. In response, Wood
Haven has cut some positions and restructured others to provide for more flexible staff scheduling.
Revenues for 2010 are stagnant or lower compared to 2009 for the majority of income areas:
¥ Property taxes are stagnant due to a zero value change in the real estate 2008 triennial update for all
residential, commercial, industrial and public utility properties.
¥ Permissive sales taxes are stagnant and it is hoped that the receipts will equal the conservative
estimate of $15 million. Currently receipts are lagging behind last year by $368,980.
¥ Local government funds are down $151,000. Allocations continue to decrease as the State of Ohio lags in
revenue collections.
¥ Interest income is stagnant. Similar to sales tax receipts, the estimate is conservative, according to
the budget report. It is hoped that the estimate of $2.5 million will be met. Receipts to date are not
encouraging and are $455,930 less when compared to prior year-to-date totals.
¥ Investment income is mirroring the national trend – down nearly 27 percent compared to the same time
period in 2008.
¥ Tangible personal property tax has been phased out with only delinquencies being collected at the local
level. State reimbursement is at 100 percent for 2010, then begins a gradual reduction each year until
phased out in 2018.
¥ Statutory fees, licenses and fines are down $130,630. Various fees to be collected by elected
officials, such as the auditor and recorder, are lower.
While all this gloomy financial news has the county commissioners concerned, they are focusing on cutting
costs and continuing to provide core services to citizens.
"We’ll be hopefully able to weather the downturn well," Muir said.
But it will mean some changes, with county offices taking new looks at how to operate more efficiently
and perhaps cut back to essential services, according to Wood County Commissioner Jim Carter.
"We need to go back to the core values of government," he said.

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