By Scott Halasz
XENIA — Greene County Commissioners Thursday approved the 2016 tax budget of more than $50 million.
It represents an increase of more than $2.6 million when compared to the 2015 approved general fund budget, but the $50,143,930 anticipated for next year is just a “best guess” according to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson.
The preliminary budget is required by the Ohio Revised Code, Huddleson said, and budget hearings for each department will be held later in the year before the final number is approved in December.
“They’ll have to justify it,” he said.
Nearly half the overall increase is attributed to the sheriff’s office while slightly less than $600,000 in increases are for the board of elections.
Sheriff Gene Fischer had requested $16.1 million, but that number was trimmed to $13.3 million by Huddleson after requesting revisions from Fischer. The Sheriff said he’s just trying to help his department recover financially to where it was several years ago, add equipment and personnel and open up space in the jail so prisoners don’t have to be released on a daily basis.
Fischer said a request for $20,000 to cover potential insurance deductibles was one item, in particular, that was cut even though he was told the county would no longer pay for it.
The board of elections budget request was roughly double the 2015 number of $831,684, Huddleson said. Director Lyn McCoy said with a presidential election coming up and no incumbent, costs go up. In 2008 there were more than 100 part-time employees working in the office during election time. There are also raises for several employees that went into effect last year in the 2016 budget proposal.
“We just didn’t feel in good conscience we could make any cuts,” McCoy said. “There’s a lot to consider.”
Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.