SIDNEY – Shelby County’s budget increased to more than $73.6 million for 2020, an increase of a little more than 1 percent compared to 2019.
Shelby County’s budget is $73,612,111.63 for 2020 after being $72,827,404.57 last year. The budget increase mostly can be attributed to rising costs, Commissioner Bob Guillozet said.
“Some things we’re bound by,” Guillozet said. “We have union contracts we have to abide with, and some cost us a little bit more this year. But that’s a fact of life. The price of everything out there seems to be going up.”
While the commissioners approve the county’s annual budget, most of the appropriations are determined by the state government. Locally, officials have some control over the General Fund budget.
The county’s 2020 General Fund budget is $19,421,769.47. That’s up from $17,804,972.21 in 2019, an increase of approximately 9 percent.
“Out of that $73 million, we only have control over just what’s in the General Fund, which is under $20 million,” Guillozet said. “That’s the only thing that we have any kind of control over. And a lot of that is all mandated.
“They call a lot of the shots there (in Columbus), and we just have to pay the bill.”
Commissioner Tony Bornhorst said the only non-mandated items in Shelby County’s 2020 budget are for the senior center, economic development, Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District, Extension Office and public transit.
“All five of them are really important,” Bornhorst said. “We were able to do some small increases in three areas there.”
The commissioners also increased local funding for the Adult Probation Department and Drug Abuse Resistance Education after the state government cut funding for them by $50,000 each.
“There’s only so many dollars to go around, and somebody has to make a decision,” Bornhorst said. “That was one of them, and we had to make a decision here to up the game here.”
With drug abuse remaining a problem, the commissioners said they wanted to fund the probation department and DARE locally so the programs could continue operating as they have in recent years.
“Obviously the dynamics of our drug situation, or illegal drug use, have changed,” Bornhorst said. “Not necessarily heroin but you’ve still got meth and all these other items. We still have an increased number of people going through the court system so it was important to keep that probation department whole.”
“We all felt the DARE program is extremely important,” Bornhorst added.
In funding Shelby County’s budget, the No. 1 revenue generator is sales tax, which brings in approximately $5.8 million for the county.
“We’re pretty fortunate that our sales tax base has held steady,” Guillozet said. “You always hate to rely on an unsteady source of income, and the sales tax can be an unsteady source. But here lately it’s held real steady.”
Shelby County also receives approximately $2.6 million from property taxes, $880,000 from the Sheriff’s Office and jail and $700,000 in interest. Grants are another major source of funding.
“There’s a lot of grants that change from year to year,” Bornhorst said. “We don’t have a handle on every last one of them.
“We’re always glad to see them and the effort that our elected officials and the folks working for them to apply for the grants. All these grants are all competitive, and so you’ve got to do your fine job of writing to get them because they just don’t hand them out to you.”
Significant changes from 2019 in the county’s budget include the Sheriff’s Office appropriations increasing almost $750,000 from $5,025,789 to $5,774,030. Rising salaries, additional D.A.R.E. funding and to a lesser extent increased medical costs and food costs for inmates accounted for the increase, Bornhorst said.
The local appropriations for the Adult Probation Department almost doubled from $112,912 to $210,997 – largely as a result of deceased state funding.
The budget for the Board of Elections increased by almost $70,000 from $313,467 to $381,970. The increase is a result of 2020 being a presidential election year plus an increase in spending on cyber protections.
“I wish that was one item that we could be able to have more flatline instead of yo-yoing around because next year that dollar amount will go back down a little bit,” Bornhorst said.
The Veterans Relief Donation Fund more than quadrupled from $2,472.52 to $10,737.84. That fund, which is managed by the Shelby County Veterans Service Office, is supported by donations.
“Thanks to some people’s generosity,” Bornhorst said of the fund’s growth, “why that’s great.”
Looking back at 2019, the commissioners were proud to finish paying off the Courthouse renovations. The $5 million project began in November 2014 and took about a year and a half to complete.
Maintenance projects like the Courthouse will continue to be a priority in coming years.
“That’s what we’ve been doing the last few years, is playing catch up,” Commissioner Julie Ehemann said.
Projects for upcoming years include drainage at the Fairgrounds, the Fort Loramie wastewater treatment plant and communications infrastructure.
“We do have some projects coming up in the next couple years that are going to take some cash,” Guillozet said.
The commissioners also would like to raise hourly wages for all county employees to at least $15 an hour so the county would be better positioned to attract and retain employees.
“We’ve had employees here that have been here for years that weren’t making $15 an hour,” Guillozet said.
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