MANSFIELD — A meeting for all Richland County officeholders and department heads to discuss the region’s fiscal condition is being considered as the deadline for the 2013 fiscal budget looms.
Richland County Commissioners chairman Ed Olson made the suggestion Thursday because revenue estimates for 2013 will not be ready until well into June. He said many officials still have not submitted their estimated spending figures for next year, even though there is a June 30 budget filing deadline.
Olson said meeting separately with individual departments has been the procedure for about 25 years.
“Our revenue certification has been abnormally conservative and people ask for everything they want, so there is a $5 million gap between requests and revenue,” Olson said. “We usually can eliminate $3 million right away, leaving us with about $2 million to cut.”
Olson said the county has seen continuing improvement in sales tax revenues this year, but for every dollar gains in sales tax, it loses a dollar in local government funds from the state.
County Auditor Patrick Dropsey said he will not receive local government fund estimates from the state until July. Local tax revenue estimates are not made until mid-June. He said it’s difficult to estimate sales tax receipts because the temporary 0.25 percent increase approved last month does not go into effect until July 1.
“I could estimate the sales tax, but I would have to lowball it because I don’t know how the new tax will go and I don’t know how seasonal sales will be,” Dropsey said. “There are too many unknowns right now.”
Several state sources have mentioned revenue figures from Ohio’s new casinos, but Dropsey said two of the four just opened.
“I don’t know when the state will give us any estimate on our share of the casino revenue, and I’m not even sure what they put into their mid-cycle budget,” he said.
In other business Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency has told the county to make major improvements to the Lust and Country Meadows treatment plants or lose their operating licenses and close them. The county has decided the cheaper alternative is to let the plants close and to connect the sewers to Shelby’s municipal facility.
Sanitary engineer Steve Risser said the projects are behind the original timeline, but they should be completed by October, which is acceptable to the EPA. The projects affect about 38 customers in the two subdivisions in Jackson Township on the south and east sides of Shelby.
News Journal correspondent