County approves $52M budget


Wood County is expecting to spend more than $52.64 million next year while collecting nearly $53 million.

County commissioners approved the 2024 budget at their Thursday meeting.

Appropriations are 4.97% higher than last year’s $50.15 million, said Dan Scherger, Assistant County Administrator.

That is a smaller increase than what was seen going into 2023, which was 5.29%.

The primary cost increase is payroll, he said, which is between $25 million and $30 million for next year.

The county remains in a strong financial position going into 2024, he said.

Revenue for 2024 is estimated to reach $52.91 million.

“While sales tax growth slowed for the first time in several years, investment income increased considerably,” he said.

Sale tax receipts for 2023 were $28.92 million. representing a 1.35% increase over 2022.

The county receives 1% of the funds collected from the 6.75% sales tax, said county Administrator Carri L. Stanley.

The increase in investment income offset the slow growth in sales tax, with receipts of $6.86 million through November, a $4.50 million increase over last year.

The county for the first time in years is adding staff.

Four new full-time general fund positions were approved, including a maintenance worker for the jail, a veterans services officer, a clerical deputy for the sheriff’s office and an IT support position.

Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said the county hasn’t added four positions in one year since she’s been on the board, “but they all proved to us the need and the necessity to have these extra positions.”

In an effort to attract and retain employees, commissioners approved a 4% raise for general fund employees.

The raise “recognizes the efforts of the existing employees and to attract and retain employees as the labor market tightens and wage pressures increase,” Scherger said.

He said there were approximately 380 full-time individuals paid through the general fund.

Commissioner Craig LaHote said he was glad the county could provide salary increases.

“It’s getting harder and harder to find people,” he said.

There’s a lot of competition in the labor market, he said.

Commissioners approved several capital projects, including renovation of the administrative office area in Wood County Common Pleas Courtroom 1, replacement of the roof at the juvenile detention center, and replacement of servers and technology infrastructure in the IT department.

The amount budgeted in 2024 for capital projects is $3,528,191 total from the general fund and the permanent improvements fund, Scherger said.

The first floor of the courthouse will be evaluated in early 2024 as part of a domestic relations court space study.

More than $108,000 has been set aside in the strategic budget for vests and ballistic helmets for the sheriff’s department road patrol and new weapons for all certified deputies to replace current weapons that are 17 years old.

Six hybrid Ford Explorer patrol vehicles ordered in 2023 will be delivered in 2024 at a cost of $375,000.

A $200,000 request for new dispatch consoles in the sheriff’s office was denied, said Stanley, and there may be opportunities for grant money for that project.

Instead of a renovation of the Job and Family Services building, there will be reconfiguration of cubicles, she said.

“We didn’t have a lot of stuff that we rejected. We do have conversations before budgets are submitted,” Stanley said. “Sometimes it’s discussing when it could happen in the future.”

The common pleas court strategic budget includes $54,000 for Courtroom 4 upgrades including carpeting, jury box seating and restroom updates.

Renovations of the staff area, including new furniture for Courtroom 1 will cost $276,000.

Appropriations of $70,000 have been made for the land use plan update.

The jail renovation and expansion, with a budget of $28 million, is approximately 65% done and remains on schedule to be completed in September 2024. Contractors have nearly completed the new booking area and are focusing on the medical area renovation and female housing construction.

The $3 million, 7.4-acre landfill expansion will start in April with completion in October.

The department heads have been very diligent about their budgets, Herringshaw said.

The county has been saving money and putting it into the capital budget, which will allow them to complete these projects without going to the taxpayers, she said.

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