Wood County Commissioners 2017

Wood County Commissioners Ted Bowlus (from left), Doris Herringshaw and Craig LaHote. 

Wood County will operate next year on a $44.6 million budget, which includes funding for a new 911 system and 3 percent raises for approximately 1,000 employees.

A new 911 system, which will include the ability to text, will cost $1 million over five years. There are partners in the system, including Bowling Green State University ($56,211), Ottawa County ($166,680) and Sandusky County/Clyde ($215,513), which will also serve as back-ups.

"That's going to be top of the line," Commissioner Ted Bowlus said of the new 911 system. "I think Sheriff (Mark) Wasylyshyn has done a fine job in orchestrating that and I think it will serve our county very, very well."

The wage increase recognizes the county's "most valuable asset — the people who work daily to provide service to Wood County citizens," according to a release issued by the commissioners. The 3 percent increase is for employees in the commissioners' departments, as well as those in the prosecutor's, recorder's, court security and public defender's offices.

Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said the county is fortunate to have a strong sales tax revenue.

"Of course we're not happy about losing the Medicaid sales tax, but we're going to learn to deal with (it)," she said.

The county, so far, is compensating for the loss of $1 million from sales tax on Medicaid managed care services, mostly due to an increase in the sales tax revenue.

"The sales tax revenue did go up, compared to last year, and it's very much close to being compensatory as to what we had last year," Bowlus said.

County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said the state money had been collected until June 30, and Wood County lags behind in receiving it.

"But that will become more apparent as we move through the next several months," he said. "The full effect of that hasn't been realized."

Over the last few weeks, there had been discussion about the court security budget. On Oct. 1, the sheriff began handling security in the Atrium, while the constable still has a presence in the judges' courtrooms.

During an initial budget talk in late October, the sheriff submitted a 2018 appropriation of $192,587. The constable's was $259,580, for a total of $452,167.

Herringshaw said the board asked the two offices to compromise.

"The sheriff's office and the judges worked it out themselves. We kind of put it on their plates," she said.

Kalmar said part-time employees will have to be flexible and will have to leave if they're not needed in court. The schedule at Wood Haven Health Care runs like this, he added.

"It really is based on how part-time people are scheduled," Kalmar said.

The 2017 budget for court security was $383,957. Next year, the combined budget for court security and courthouse security will be set at $415,188.

The commissioners also approved an appropriation of $1.2 million to rebuild the permanent improvement fund, which is for maintaining and improving county-owned buildings.

Kalmar said this fund was once as high as $10 million as the commissioners years ago saved for renovations in the old jail and at the courthouse. The savings meant the county did not have to borrow money when the work was needed.

"Over the course of time, buildings are going to need roofs, or their boiler replaced or air conditioning replaced or parking lots replaced," Kalmar said. "It's just proactive."

The budget also includes $38,000 in technology funding for Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matt Reger's courtroom, and $60,000 for a community-based facility for females at the Wood County Justice Center. Reger had asked for $60,000 in 2018 to fund a $52,000-a-year salaried position and for $8,000 in renovations at the jail. The cost in 2019 would be $52,000 for the staff position. After that, he hopes the state would fund it.

The facility, which will offer intensive training and education on getting a job and making good choices, is touted as an option to jail.

Commissioner Craig LaHote was at the meeting to vote on the budget, but was ill and left afterward.