The Scioto County Commissioners accepted the first half of the Medicaid Health Insuring Corporation (MHIC) Sales Tax Replacement Thursday at the commissioners meeting.
The Commissioners accepted $3,165,940, which will help offset the MCO tax that has been looming over the county since last year.
The Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners Bryan Davis said the money will not go into the general fund, but will be placed in a side account.
“It’s something that we’ve discussed with our auditor extensively and our treasurer about how to handle this money,” Davis said. “We will draw off of it as we feel we need to.”
Davis said this payment is the state of Ohio’s attempt to offset the loss of the MCO tax. There will be a second infusion to help offset the MCO tax situation, which is supposed to occur toward the end of next year, but no timetable has been set for that payment to occur.
Meanwhile, even though Scioto County was given the first of two potential payments to ease its burdens, the Commissioners are still going to be cautious with the funds and all county programs.
“We are going to watch all programs very closely,” Davis said. “We have to keep in mind, time flies by the way. We have to keep in mind as commissioners, we not only have to worry about today, but we have to worry about the health of the county three years from now.
“We have to have the mindset that we are not going to have that MCO tax three years from now. Any offsetting funds we receive, yes, it can help. But we also have to get everybody in this building and outside of this building that depends on the general fund, to realize that 2 1/2 years from now, that money is not going to be there.”
Davis said there are two things that will help offset the loss of the MCO. The first is economic development.
“We have to bring more jobs into our county — high paying jobs where people are making money, spending money here in our county,” Davis said. “That means are sales tax revenue will climb, other than our MCO tax. We won’t depend on MCO tax anymore, we will depend on our regular sales tax from purchases in our county. And that’s vital.”
The second solution Davis provided was for citizens to shop small, shop local.
Robert Horton, the County’s new economic development director, agreed with Davis’ assessment, but also said he would like to see Portsmouth take advantage of having Shawnee State University at its disposal.
“I eat here. I shop here. I want to see downtown cleaned up and people get involved in bringing in the business,” Horton said. “There’s a lot it has to offer. We’ve got a college, but it’s not a college town. I want to know why and I want to know what we can do to change that.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1927, or on Twitter @crslone.