Clinton County adopts $16.5 million budget


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry Steed recounts the 2021 budget process.

Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry Steed recounts the 2021 budget process.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — Clinton County commissioners on Wednesday approved a 2021 General Fund budget of about $16.5 million.

In approving the budget on the second day of December, it marked the soonest the county budget has been completed in a decade, according to Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed.

The hope is that the earlier adoption of the budget will allow county departments to start making plans now for 2021, said Steed, with 2021 anticipated to be a year of renewal after a year in which the coronavirus loomed over much of life.

Back in September, the Clinton County Budget Commission projected about $17.6 million in General Fund revenue coming in next year, so the $16.5 million budget would end in — if the revenue projection turns out roughly accurate — a surplus of about $1.1 million, Steed said.

In the adopted 2021 budget, each county government department will receive a 3.5 percent increase in appropriations for its personnel salary line. However, it’s the county department heads who determine exactly how to disburse those extra compensation dollars to their staffers.

In support of an ongoing Clean Up Clinton County initiative, commissioners are directing $108,000 to the local Land Bank because the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funding is drying up. The U.S. Congress has not allocated any additional funds to NSP since the third round of funding.

The NSP was established in part for the purpose of providing emergency assistance to stabilize communities with high rates of abandoned and foreclosed homes, as was the case here in the wake of DHL’s 2009 exit from the Wilmington Air Park.

The Clinton County Land Re-utilization Corporation (“Land Bank”) was established in 2016 with a mission to clean up vacant, blighted properties throughout Clinton County and return them to productive use.

The Clean Up Clinton County program was launched earlier this year. Blight and other major building-and-zoning noncompliance issues have been its focus.

In working on the 2021 budget, commissioners were pleased that the cost of health insurance premiums paid by the county did not go up at all. Steed attributed that, at least in part, to county employees participating in wellness programs and health seminars.

Last December, commissioners approved a $15.5 million General Fund operating budget for 2020.

Approving the 2021 budget Wednesday led commissioners to reflect back upon 2020.

Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty said it’s been a challenging year for the county’s government.

“To keep a budget like we have and do the things that we’re doing takes a lot of teamwork, and it’s been a good year in that regard,” McCarty said.

Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods said she is very pleased with the new budget. The budget will provide the departments the monies they need to provide services to the citizens and perform departmental duties, and at the same time give an increase in compensation to employees, said Woods.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry Steed recounts the 2021 budget process.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/12/web1_steed_2.jpgClinton County Commissioners President Kerry Steed recounts the 2021 budget process. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com