WILMINGTON — A commissioner foresees “a little bit of a gap” between the amount the county receives next year in revenue and the likely level of expenditures in 2019, but he anticipates the gap will be bridged by spending some of the county’s cash reserves.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed led a budget discussion Wednesday when elected officials and heads of county government departments assembled to hear what commissioners want them to prepare for individual meetings concerning 2019 departmental budgets.
According to a mid-August estimate by the Clinton County Budget Commission, the total General Fund revenue projected for 2019 is $14.6 million. On Wednesday, Steed said he anticipates county spending for next year to be in the range of $14.7 to $14.9 million.
“That puts us at a little bit of a gap,” said Steed.
This year’s Clinton County 2018 General Fund budget, approved in December 2017, was for $14.5 million.
During the meeting, a county staffer who works in financials for one of the departments asked about the 0.5 percent local sales tax that rolled off the books at the end of September 2016.
Steed responded there is a balance that needs to be struck in regards to revenue and expenses, and the county was fortunate to have built up its carryover. The three commissioners at the time felt it was important to spend down that carryover and so they did not renew the sales tax, he said.
When the carryover balance approaches the recommended level as a rainy-day fund, that will potentially be the time to reconsider the sales tax, said Steed, pointing out he is only one of three commissioners and next year will bring a new commissioner to the board.
For his part, Steed sees a probable need for such a sales tax discussion “coming up very soon.”
One budgetary increase commissioners cannot prevent in the 2019 county budget is a 3 percent pay increase for corrections officers at the Clinton County Jail. These workers have a union, and their collective bargaining agreement — contract — calls for a 3 percent increase at the start of calendar year 2019.
Because of considerations of fairness, it is the intent of the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department to seek a 3 percent increase for all its other employees, too, which includes the deputies, said Col. Brian Prickett with the sheriff’s office.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.