County salaries to increase

Salary line items across all Auglaize County offices and departments are increasing by 2 percent, according to the 2012 budget finalized by Auglaize County commissioners late this week, and the commissioners voiced their pleasure with the final budget numbers.
“We’re happy with the budget,” Commissioner John Bergman said, noting that “not everyone got all their requests.”
Bergman said the commissioners spent a lot of time developing the county’s budget for 2012.
“We spent more time on this budget than others in the past,” said Bergman, who serves this year as president of the Board of Commissioners.
Overall, the 2012 budget is set at $58.3 million, as certified by the county auditor, which includes $14.5 million in the general fund. The budget increased a little from 2011, but not substantially.
He said the county is holding comparable to where it has been in the
past with Auglaize County Auditor Janet Schuler estimating sales tax revenue of more than $6.1 million in 2012, an estimate she hopes is low.
Carryover in the general fund for 2012 is at $2.9 million, compared to $2.4 million in 2011 and $1.9 million in 2010.
Looking at salaries, Bergman explained they decided to increase salary line items by 2 percent across the board, but its up to elected office holders or department supervisors to determine how to allocate those funds.
“We went with no increase in 2009 and with 1 percent in 2010 and 2011,” Bergman said. “It appears what I’ve been seeing is most entities around the area have been giving 2 percent.”
He said the 2 percent accounts for $69,000 in the budget in a year when employees also are seeing 1 percent increases in their portion of insurance premiums.
The commissioner also said they are keeping a sharp financial eye on the Auglaize County Courthouse project, which should be completed by June.
“The thing we’re ever mindful of is getting the courthouse project completed and the grant reimbursement back in a timely manner,” Bergman said.
“We’re unsure of how we’ll be reimbursed for the courthouse. Our concern is meeting the details,” he said. “If it takes place in the time frame it should, there will be no problems, but if it comes in after, what do we do to bridge the gap in the meantime?”
Bergman said they have discussed the scenarios, including a short-term loan, but for now are not fully funding health insurance through the year, but pulling it forward to help if needed to cover the renovation project.
“We pay insurance quarterly so we are not encumbering funds for the last quarter,” Bergman said.
He said in the worst case scenario, the commissioners may need to cover the entire amount of the grant at $1.3 million, but more likely between $200,000 and $300,000.
“The timing will be everything and we may be shuffling money around,” Bergman said.
Bergman said they did not fully fund all requests for unfunded mandates in the 2012 budget. For the county’s OSU Extension Office, commissioners reduced the request by $20,000 due to plans to share a family and consumer sciences educator position with Mercer County’s extension office. Details of the shared agreement for Barb Hennard, who currently serves as Mercer County’s family and consumer sciences educator, are expected to be finalized by the end of next week.
Commissioners decided to fund the Auglaize Soil and Water Conservation District the same as in 2011, which is the amount they had requested.
Bergman said they reduced their contribution to the Auglaize County Humane Society to $1,000 from $5,000 in 2011.
The Humane Society had not made a formal request for funding to the county but has the right to ask for excess funds from dog tag sales, Bergman said, noting that the commissioners thought it was fair to reduce that amount as they are trying to fund the building of a new dog shelter and the dog warden has taken on a more active role handling dogs running at large since coming on board.
As far as county departments, Bergman said the biggest change they made based on what was requested and what they budgeted was not allowing for approximately $6,000 requested in the Common Pleas Court budget to cover additional staffing in the case of a trial coinciding with employees’ vacation time.
“We are not going to fund that now,” Bergman said. “If it comes up, we’ll fund it at that time.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot by it self, but it all adds up,” he said.
Bergman said overall, “everyone pretty much got funded where they need to be,” with many offices requesting the same as in 2011 or less as in the case of the Recorder and Clerk of Courts office who are working short staffed.