Union County commissioners are poised to pass a temporary budget Thursday, Dec. 27, that will allow the county to operate during the first three months of 2013 while they work on a permanent budget, due at the end of March.
"We're having conversations right now about the 2012 budget and revenues, and right now things are looking pretty good for the year that's just passed," said Commissioner Gary Lee. "We had a budget of $16.1 million in 2012 and it looks like our overall expenditures will come in at $15.4 million -- comfortably within what we budgeted for the year."
Lee said the commission would like to take credit for operating $700,000 in the black, but allowed that luck played a part in the good news, too.
"We didn't have any major breakdowns, say, for instance, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), which can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars before you even go up onto the roof to check it out," he said.
The commissioners also said they were pleased with the steady rise over the course of 2012 in sales tax revenue, which stood at a gross of $9.1 million at the end of November. The 2011 sales tax revenue, including all 12 months, was just $7.9 million.
"Our sales tax numbers have rebounded nicely," Lee said. "We're pleased with that, but at the same time we're anxious to see what 2013 holds in store for our current and future revenue sources."
County Auditor Andrea Weaver said her office will be busy during the first quarter of 2013.
"Since the commissioners have chosen to not make the appropriations permanent until the statutory deadline of March 31, 2013, I will not be providing an official revenue amount until early March," she said.
"This will also allow for a full 12 months of sales tax activity, as well as insight as to the governor's intentions with the mid-biennium (budget) review. Should sales tax continue increasing, I will more than likely be certifying an amount greater than the September estimate."
Lee said county department heads have been notified to expect budgets very close to 2012 levels.
"When we pass the temporary budget on (Dec. 27), it will be nearly identical to the one we passed in 2012," Lee said.
He is comfortable with that even if Gov. John Kasich eliminates shared revenue with the counties, as has been discussed in Columbus for the last two years.
"The last thing we want to do is create a program and then 18 months later we have to abolish it because we can no longer afford to pay for it," Lee said. "We're working on a budget and a plan we can sustain, even if we get bad news from the state or if the economy doesn't improve."