Union County leaders may have learned one lesson from 2009 that sales tax revenues aren't always an exact science.

Union County leaders may have learned one lesson from 2009 that sales tax revenues aren't always an exact science.

Looking back on the year, County Commissioner Gary Lee said one of the most significant challenges the county faced was in June, when county officials were notified by county auditor Mary Snider that they had to return more than $760,000 in sales tax revenues that the county shouldn't have received in the first place.

"We were notified about mid-year that $763,000 had been over-collected from one county business over a three-year period," Lee said. "That was just a tremendous unforeseen event."

Lee said that while it took several months to get back on track, the county paid back the over-collection via monthly payments between May and November this year. Those payments were to the tune of $127,116 per month.

Although the commissioners struggled all year with rectifying the issue, Lee said the real challenges are on the horizon.

"If there is one thing that can be foreshadowed, it's that we've consistently said we're more concerned about the 2010 budget than the 2009 budget," he said. "In terms of the economy, our budgeting process goes through revenues usually a year behind what the public experiences."

The commissioners and department heads are currently going over that budget, with plans to approve at least a temporary 2010 budget by the end of the year.

Steps were also taken by the county in 2009 to finally realize an affordable solution to water pollution concerns in the unincorporated communities of Raymond and Peoria.

Earlier this month the commissioners signed an administrative settlement agreement with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) that addresses the sanitary sewer issues in the communities. The county has been working for several years to address the need for a new wastewater treatment facility and sanitary sewers in Raymond and Peoria, but has struggled to assuage the OEPA while at the same time keeping costs reasonable for county residents. With the agreement signed, the county must now find the funding to complete the estimated $4.5-million project; the county has 36 months to complete that project following the agreement with the OEPA.

Moving into 2010, the commissioners along with the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission (LUC) are preparing to update the county's 1999 Comprehensive Plan. According to LUC planner Kyle Hanigosky, that plan is a document that will help guide the county and its encompassed jurisdictions as they continue to face the planning of public and private developments within Union County.

While community members are currently being surveyed to gain input for the plan, the LUC's goal is to complete the updated plan and obtain adoption from the county commissioners by the end of the first quarter of 2010.