Recognizing that revenues fell short of estimates last year, Warren County commissioners decided to take a more conservative approach with the 2013 budget.
Commissioners said that is why the county plans to spend approximately $2.6 million less this year.
Another factor for the leaner budget according to commissioners is the fact that final payments on two major capital improvements projects — construction of the new administration building and renovations to the county courthouse — will be made this year.
Approved spending for a number of county funds and departments was cut this year compared to 2012, but allocations were increased for a handful of other funds.
The most significant spending reductions were in the following areas:
Capital Improvement Fund, $2,085,933;
Law Enforcement, $168,948;
General Revenue Fund, $51,928;
Special Road and Bridge Fund, $345,698;
Health Reimbursement Fund, $14,662;
Election Services Fund, $12,000;
Tax Maintenance Fund, $113,060;
County Clerk Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Fund, $11,387;
Federal Grant Fund, $89,276;
Inmate Security Fund, $46,185.
The county’s main revenue source is sales taxes and taxes on real estate and personal property, which directly affects the amount of money available in a given year.
For example, the county anticipated revenue of $1,283,000 for each of its three half-cent sales taxes in 2012 — General Revenue, Law Enforcement and Capital Improvements — but actual revenues were about $24,000 short of the estimate, or $8,000 per sales tax.
As a result, this year, the county budgeted for $1,275,000 in revenues for each of the sales taxes.
“We’re not projecting as much sales tax revenue,” remarked Hubie Kluesner, Southern District commissioner.
And while revenue has slipped, some expenses, such as health care premiums, went up slightly over the previous year.
However, the county will continue to pay 100 percent of the health care premium for employees who choose to enroll in the county’s health plan.
Additionally, up to $500 will be paid into health care savings accounts for participating employees. Those funds typically are used to cover co-pays and deductibles.
The $500 contribution to employees’ health care savings accounts stops once an employee reaches the $1,500 limit, Presiding Commissioner Arden Engelage explained. Once any part of that money is expended, the county resumes making HSA contributions.
Available federal grant funding and money paid to the sheriff’s department for housing federal prisoners, also is down.
Sheriff Kevin Harrison noted that not only are fewer federal prisoners being held in the county jail, but there are more county jails competing to house federal inmates.
Spending allocations were increased in several areas as well, including:
Assessment Fund, $44,176;
Recorder User Fund, $51,250;
Sheriff’s Civil Fees Fund, $13,777;
Road and Bridge Capital Fund, $100,000; and
Sheriff’s Revolving Fund, $39,336.
Improvements made at the courthouse, including the addition of insulation and replacement of the roof and installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system for the county administration building have resulted in lower utility bills according to Commissioners.
Engelage said the county has saved approximately $17,000 since those improvements were made.
“We’re anxious to see what the savings will be for a full year,” he said, noting that the county’s administrative departments moved to the new building last spring.
Engelage dismissed criticism that county employees have received only one pay increase over the past five years. He pointed out that employees received a 10-cent per hour pay raise in 2011. That was followed by a 2 percent wage hike, with a minimum of 25 cents per hour in 2012.