Commissioners OK Washington County budget

MARIETTA – Hours before the end of the final day of 2012, Washington County commissioners approved the county’s budget for 2013.

Washington County’s 2013 budget totals $63,054,228.14.

Major appropriations include $1,150,000 for Children Services; $1,485,400 for Washington County townships (plus about $300,000 in special project monies available on an as-needed basis); $2,757,517.84 for the sheriff’s office to run jail operations; $4,598,680 for the Board of Developmental Disabilities; $3,984,136 for Job and Family Services; and $1,070,225 for Senior Citizens Levy.

According to Washington County Commissioner Tim Irvine, the budget for each county department or agency was considered separately by the commissioners.

“It was decided department by department,” he said. “There was no across-the-board anything.”

Irvine said he “gave a lot of thought” to the budget for Washington County townships.

“I know the townships are struggling,” said Irvine. “They requested a larger share of the 1 percent (permissive) sales tax in 2012.”

County townships received nearly 15 percent of permissive sales tax revenues in 2012, or $1,016,784.

In 2013, that percentage will be 24 percent-broken down into categories.

Twenty percent of 2013 permissive sales tax revenues, or $1,485,400, will go to Washington County townships, said Irvine.

An additional 4 percent, or about $300,000, “will be set aside in a special projects area,” he added.

An example of a special project in 2013 could be a road slip in a county township that would require $100,000 in repairs.

“If (township trustees) applied for a grant that required a local match of $25,000, that would be the type of project that this $300,000 would be there for,” Irvine said.

Belpre Township Trustee Asa Boring said the 20 percent figure will be “a more equal sharing of the 1 percent permissive sales tax.”

“It’s not anywhere where it needs to be, but we’re heading in the right direction,” he added.

Increased funding for county townships will “help some townships with smaller budgets,” said Boring.

Additional county funds will help townships upgrade their roads, upgrade equipment or purchase new items, he added.

In Belpre Township, “We’re using dump trucks that are over 10 years old. We’re looking at buying a new dump truck (in 2013),” Boring said.

The budget money coming to townships in Washington County in the new year will be split by a traditional method.

“It’ll be figured on road mileage (in each township), as it has always been in the past,” Boring said.

Washington County Children Services will continue to face financial woes even with $1.15 million in 2013 budget monies appropriated from the Washington County commissioners.

Children Services originally asked for $1.2 million for 2013. If that full amount had been appropriated, executive director Dave Copen expected the department to be out of money by September.

“We’ll be absolutely on the ropes,” he said.

In the last few years, the department has had budget cuts at the local, state and federal levels that have totaled more than $1 million, Copen said.

However, Children Services is a service that is mandated by Ohio Revised Code.

“It’s not like we’re making widgets,” said Copen. “If you’re in the private sector and resources are dwindling…you cut your production and lay off staff.”

“But I don’t know how you do that with kids coming in the door every day,” he added.

All in all, Irvine was satisfied with the county’s budget for the new year.

“I believe Washington County is in sound financial shape,” he said.