Clinton County commissioners approve $19.3 million General Fund budget


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



WILMINGTON — Clinton County commissioners this week approved a 2022 General Fund budget of about $19.3 million.

In tackling next year’s county government expenses, the commissioners were faced with issues familiar to private businesses and consumers: retaining and recruiting employees, and the supply shortage of vehicles.

Clinton County Commissioners President Mike McCarty said that throughout the year commissioners heard from a lot of the county’s elected officials and department heads about their struggles to retain and attract new personnel.

Largely due to this, commissioners decided to bump up the departmental budgets’ wages line item by 6 percent, whereas an annual increase usually is 2½ to 3 percent, said McCarty.

It wasn’t just in view of the cost of living going up because of the high inflation rates, he said. Rather, it is a strategy to try to adjust employee pay rates to those found at like-size counties in Ohio, said McCarty.

Worker retention and recruitment considerations are “the big driver this year” behind the larger than usual pay increase, he said.

Four Sheriff’s Department cruisers were ordered for 2022 while they were available, which is a little more than normal. The Board of Commissioners didn’t want the county to end up short on law enforcement cruisers, said the commissioners president.

Next year’s budget appropriations of about $19.3 million contrasts with the county’s General Fund operating budget of about $16.5 million approved last December. The biggest reason for the different totals, said McCarty, is money to be spent to renovate the former Southern State College facility on Davids Drive for expanded office space to house nine county departments.

Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said when you take out the dollars for the renovation work at the newly acquired facility, the increase that’s left is pretty standard for budgetary numbers.

By the way, the relocation of those nine county departments is now anticipated for October 2022, rather than summer.

During the budget interview Wednesday, McCarty said, “We have a lot of great people working within the county who really capitalize on grant dollars which helps take the pressure off of the General Fund.”

That is a piece of the county revenue sum “that’s usually under-noted,” commented McCarty.

Steed remarked the county’s continuing investment in the Clean Up Clinton County initiative continues to show dividends. The initiative addresses blighted, abandoned structures around the county.

“That couldn’t have happened if we hadn’t made those investments in Building & Zoning [Department], and the Prosecutor’s Office, and the Land Bank,” Steed said.

He added that Clean Up Clinton County is still a newer program “just getting its legs.”

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

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By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com