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The county is showing signs of creeping out of the economic woes that struck most of the country in 2008, a county official says.
Auglaize County Board of Commissioners President Doug Spencer told a crowd of approximately 70 people at Marleys Downtown on Thursday during the State of the County address.
Spencer reported sales tax receipts increased 8.8 percent for the county through the first four months of the year, or approximately $200,000 in excess of 2011 receipts. They increased 9.8 percent over last year.
“People in Auglaize County are going out and buying things,” Spencer said.
Receipts passed 2008 sales tax collections by approximately $60,000, the first time that has happened since the national recession hit, Spencer said.
To help boost those receipts, Spencer pointed out that Auglaize County has a 6.2 unemployment rate, which was one of the lowest in the state and nearly half of the peak reached at 12 percent.
Spencer said the much of the reason the county has been able to recover relatively quickly was because of modernization at the Department of Jobs and Family Services, which had began in the early 2000s. He said the move allowed the department to continue running with less funding.
Spencer also discussed the details on work at the $8.3 million Auglaize County Courthouse as it draws to a close. He said the county had used good fiscal planning and will not be staring at debt as the project closes.
“We will be done with the major work on the renovation by the end of May,” Spencer said. “It will be 100 percent paid for by the end of the project.”
Spencer said the county planned to have the courthouse open for business in September with an open house to be scheduled for the fall. Different will be only one entrance at the facility off of Willipie Street, with security checkpoints.
“We took a building from the 1800s” Spencer said, “and made it so it will last into the 21st and 22nd century.”
Spencer pointed out that industry is on the rise and plants such as Dannon in Minster and MTO in St. Marys have been hiring workers.
General revenues were approximately $12.8 million in 2011 as compared to $12.4 in expenditures, allowing the county to use 58,672 from the Permanent Improvement Fund and use it for courthouse renovations.
He reported that the county employed 475 workers in 2011.
The county will face several challenges this year, Spencer said. Among them was finding a dedicated facility for Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey. The county attempted to build a facility last year, but the winning bid for a 2,200-foot facility was $550,000, a cost unable to be absorbed.
The county is also looking at having to add additional wells to the St. Marys landfill for monitoring.