Wood County is anticipating spending 5.26% more in 2023 than it did this year.
The county commissioners on Tuesday approved appropriations for next year totaling $50.15 million, up from $47.64 million last year.
The debt payment for the jail renovation and expansion is $1.22 million. Without that payment, the increase in appropriations would be 2.55%, said Dan Scherger, assistant county administrator.
Wood County remains in a strong financial position with continued sales tax growth, according to written comments of the commissioners. Current challenges facing county offices and departments include restriction in the labor market, wage pressures, supply chain issues and record-high inflation.
County employees will receive 4% raises to address rising costs for employees and to increase interest in vacant positions, Scherger said.
The salary increase also applies to the prosecutor’s, recorder’s, court security and public defender’s offices.
Commissioner Craig LaHote said they are feeling pressure from other entities that can pay higher and that some departments are having difficulties filling positions.
He said he hopes the 4% wage increase will entice applicants.
Sales tax collection have grown 8.08% to $28.54 million and casino tax receipts of $1.90 million is also up, Scherger said.
Investment income dipped in 2021 but with the increase in interest rates, collection has increased to $1.26 million through November and it is trending more toward pre-COVID figures, he said.
Inflation and the possibility of a recession are concerns they are watching closely, he said.
They need to remain “cautious about next year with all the talk about the recession,” LaHote agreed.
Administrator Carri Stanley praised Scherger for his work on his first county appropriations.
“It was a great way to meet a lot of new people,” Scherger said.
Overall revenues won’t be determined until spring, Stanley said.
Capital improvement projects include the renovation of Courtroom #2 which involves alterations to the jury box and the court reporter’s station, painting, electrical and carpeting, Stanley said.
The Common Pleas and juvenile courtrooms will get $88,982 in technology and audio system improvements.
Scherger said a request for work in the Courtroom #1 office was not approved.
He said technology improvements include $1.20 million for contracted security for all systems and implementation of multi-factor authentications for users and additional support for remote work capabilities.
New positions include an electronic bond monitoring officer and increasing a part time juvenile court constable to full time.
There are currently 20 job postings on the county website, including for an assistant prosecutor, a director of nursing at Wood Haven Health Care and a WIC nutrition director for the health department.
In department news, eight Ford Explorers for the Wood County Sheriff’s Office that were appropriated in 2023 are being purchased with 2022 funds to take advantage of the state bid pricing.
Radios and mobile data terminals and other equipment for the vehicles will be purchased in 2023; $91,327 is available for those items.
The $28 million jail expansion is on schedule, said Dee Stewart, fiscal manager.
It is scheduled to be completed in July 2024.
Also at the meeting, commissioners:
Approved spending $16,000 to place an antenna in Lucas County to support the sheriff’s deputies who transport inmates to the Toledo jail.
Radio signals drop off as they get downtown, Stanley said.
The is no rent for the location and there are funds left over in the sheriff’s budget to pay for the work, she said.
Appointed Kristen Leverton to the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund Regional Council, and reappointed Carmen Ortega to the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership.