The Commissioners held their last meeting of the year Thursday and one of the hot button topics was the budget, which is now complete and ready to guide the county through the fiscal year of 2018.
This round of budget negotiations has been more challenging as the Commissioners have been trying to compensate for the $2.1 million Medicaid-Managed Care Organization (MCO) tax the state legislature levied against all 88 counties in Ohio last year.
As the deadline neared, programs such as 4-H — which are considered non-mandated but the commissioners fund nonetheless — have been hanging in limbo, waiting to see if the funding was still going to be available.
In total, the Commissioners received approximately $20 million in budget requests. However, they were only able to honor $16.2 million in the final budget.
The good news for all the non-mandated programs — 4-H, and Soil and Water to be exact — they won’t be losing their funding anytime soon.
“We found money for 4-H,” The Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners Bryan Davis said. “We found money for Soil and Water. We did that. We are looking for other ways to fund like Soil and Water.”
While the Commissioners found a way to keep all of the non-mandated programs, Davis did admit the worse-case scenario has occurred. The County is running on budget that rivals 2014 expenditures and has $1.371 million less to spend than the 2017 budget.
Davis was quick to point out that the County is fiscally healthy and has approximately $8 million in carryover at the current moment. However, to remain fiscally conservative, the County as to operate within the current confines of the budget, which means the MCO tax has forced the Commissioners into a situation where they are going to operate off of spending levels closer to 2014 than 2017.
“I think it’s a very fair budget,” Davis said. “We have once again balanced our budget. We are ending the year very strong financially …
“A very, strong fiscal conservative approach as helped us do that. But we can’t do that alone. We have to rely on our other office holders to toll the lines and keep their spending at a minimum, and they’ve done that. They’ve done a very good job, working as a team to keep our expenses down to take care of the taxpayers money.”
Davis talked about the County’s approach of being proactive, instead of reactive toward the MCO tax and its various problems. The Commissioners began working toward cutting the county’s expenses last year. Over the last year, the County has been operating with an uncertain future and Davis believes the future might be finally taking shape.
“If there’s any silver lining to this, the county was proactive,” Davis said. We’re not reactive. We’ve communicated this, I feel, very adequately, to the community what was going to happen.
“We feel we are going into this time period of uncertainty. I feel there is some uncertainty here, but then again, we have some finality here. We know where we stand. There’s a silver lining in that. We have a better understanding of what we can expect in the future.”
The Commissioners also stressed that they haven’t implemented any hiring freezes or wage freezes. However, as for the discretionary spending, the Commissioners have eliminated it.
“We pretty much cut that out,” Davis said. “It’s gone, we cut it all, which is our flexibility. It’s gone.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1927, or on Twitter @crslone