Commissioners hold line on taxes in 2014 budget

After dealing with several routine housekeeping issues at their meeting Wednesday morning, the Warren County Commissioners unanimously approved the county’s 2014 budget that does not include any tax increases.

Toby Rohlin, county fiscal director, said, “The budget for 2014 does not require any change in the tax rate. We’re projecting total county revenues of $17,098,000 and total expenses of $16,983,000. It’s a balanced budget, basically. There’s a slight excess of revenues over expenses of $115,000.”

He said that the biggest impact on keeping expenses down is the control over health care costs, noting that seven years ago the commissioners decided to self-insure county workers, saving the taxpayers $6.5 million since 2007.

Commissioner John Eggleston had nothing but kind words for county employees, both for the budget and keeping healthcare costs down. “Our employees responded very well to this, in terms of the wellness program… our employees have done a very good job of staying healthy.This has been one of the real success stories of my time in office.”

After passing the motion to approve the budget, Eggleston said, “Once again, we have had tremendous cooperation from our department heads and the people that put this budget together. Toby Rohlin and his department have done absolutely incredible work. Our chief clerk and all of our department heads have once again come through with reasonable budget requests.

“This was, I think, one of the more pleasant processes we’ve gone through. I don’t think we had any out of line requests. Again, our employees have done a terrific job over the last few years and I would like to publicly acknowledge that,” he added.

In other business, Rohlin reported that the county has $1,980,000 cash on hand, compared to $1,240,00 one year ago on the same date, with accounts payable of $220,159. The commissioners voted to approve his financial report.

They then approved a repository sale in Mead Township of a house and garage on a one-third acre plot for $1,000. The commissioners agreed that if it hadn’t sold already, no one wanted it and at least the property would return to the tax rolls.

A $4 million tax anticipation loan from PNC Bank was approved, with a variable interest rate of 33 percent of the prime rate. Rohlin said that at the current interest rate, the loan would cost the county $12,700 and even if the prime climbed to 4.5 percent next year, the cost would be $15,000.

The commissioners and Rohlin agreed that the loan would be cheaper than collecting taxes twice a year, as some counties do, considering postage and extra man-hours.

They voted to re-appoint Pat Evans to the Warren County Library board of directors.