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January 28, 2015

County approves balanced mid-year budget

GREENVILLE – Darke County Commissioners approved a balanced mid-year budget on June 30 for the first time in three years. The General Fund budget for 2015, at least at this point, is $16,882,522.

Because a balanced mid-year budget is not required by law, it is treated more as a “wish list,” or an anticipated budget if funds come in as expected, according to commissioners. The mid-year budgets for 2013 and 2014 were both approved in the “red,” with anticipated expenses exceeding anticipated income. They were approved by 2-1 margins, with Commissioner Diane Delaplane voting no on both occasions. This year the vote was unanimous.

In her report to the commissioners, Darke County Auditor Carol Ginn noted the county had seen an $872,998 increase in income tax receipts from 2011 to 2013. During the same time period, however, Local Government revenue decreased $316,394. She noted the state will likely reduce local income again, “so any increase in sales tax would be offset by the reduction of Local Government Revenue.”

“Taxpayers don’t understand how the loss of Local Government revenue impacts their services,” she said. “Originally, the state had asked the people to support a tax increase; in return they promised the local governments would get a share.” She added this decreasing Local Government revenue impacts governments at all levels: county, city, village, township and other tax-funded entities.

Ginn acknowledged the previous two years of mid-term budgets were passed in the red, but was pleased to note this one is balanced. “It’s really like we look at the dollars coming in as anticipated money,” adding the end of the year budget, by law, must balance. “This year it looks like we’re going to be right on target,” she said.

Neither the commissioners nor Ginn rely on anticipated casino revenue or sales tax increases in determining potential receipts versus appropriations. The funds coming from those sources helped in creating a carryover balance for this year of $3,543,184.

In her report, Ginn also noted the Darke County Wagner Avenue facility debt, as of Dec. 31, will be $6,125,214.37. Principal and interest due in 2015 will be $535,407.51. “The county General Fund will need to continue to help support this facility,” she added.

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