GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Commissioners last week approved a 2016 alternative tax budget, as well as discussed the need to protect funds for future emergencies.
The budget was submitted by Gallia County Administrator Karen Sprague to the county auditor’s office Sept. 28. The budget was open for public inspection in the auditor’s office on Oct. 1.
The hearing reviewed past expenditures of the county’s general fund and revenues gained. In 2014, the carryover cash balance from 2013 was $983,581.01. Revenues were came in at $8,598,476.35. Expenditures for the year were $8,625,569.66. The year end cash balance came in at $956,487.70.
Funds in 2015 carried over the balance from the previous year. Estimated revenues for that year were $8,339,398.13. Estimated expenditures were calculated at $8,523,775.11. The estimated year end balance was $772,110.72.
Estimated funds carried over from the 2015 into the 2016 year as well. Estimated revenues for the year were $8,469,230.99. Requested 2016 departmental budgets for expenditures measured around $9,637,789.04. The estimated year end cash balance is a negative $396,447.33.
“If those were our actual revenues and we didn’t make any cuts to the requests, that would leave our year-end balance at the end of next year in the negative,” Sprague said. “Obviously, we have to make cuts to requests.”
Vice president of the commissioners, Harold Montgomery, said the budget would be balanced by the end of the year “rest assured.”
According to Sprague, the commission would need to meet with various county department heads in November and December to discuss what is of the utmost need to each department and what the county can afford to distribute to each group to make sure the budget is balanced and to make certain that carryover funds are not completely used for operating costs.
According to Sprague, that means the county must cut out $1.2 million in requested funds to make certain the budget is balanced.
According to Commissioner David Smith, the state auditor recommends counties have a two-month carryover of funds. Smith said the county tries to keep carryover balances to around $1.4 million.
According to Sprague, the first three to four months of the new year the county has not yet gotten its second major source of revenue, which is real estate tax. Those are not due until March, so the money does not come into the county coffers until April. County officials do what is possible to ensure there is money to continue operating for that time period with the year-end funds.
“To me, that’s one of my highest priorities sitting back here,” Smith said. “We try to protect that money so that once the (new) year starts we have enough money to continue to operate and we don’t budget absolutely everything.”
According to county officials, they have been slowly attempting to build up the carryover funds. The county’s biggest source of income is sales tax. According to Smith, he believes the county has been doing a little better every year as the economy has improved, but there is always just another emergency looming around the corner or another recession that might hit. County officials attempt to be prepared for such worse-case scenarios, he said.
According to information gathered from the commission meeting last Thursday, it takes roughly $700,000 for the county to operate monthly. The county, over the past few years, has roughly had $8.4 million to work with. That may be more or less dependent upon the year’s needs.
According to Smith, managing funds can be a commissioner’s biggest responsibility “because if you don’t have money to operate, you can’t do anything.”
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.