DARKE COUNTY — The Darke County Board of Commissioners will appropriate $2.16 million more in 2016 than it did in 2015, according to the budget appropriations approved by the Commissioners at Wednesday’s regular session meeting.
Darke County Auditor Carol Ginn presented the completed numbers for the Commissioners’ review and approval during the board’s final regular session of the year.
The 2016 appropriations for the county’s General Fund total more than $20.3 million, which represents an anticipated increase of $2.16 million versus appropriations projected for the previous year in 2015. The $20.3 million does not include outside funds administered by the Commissioners.
The appropriation increases for 2016 are due to a number of factors, including increased employer healthcare costs, the county’s South Farm Industrial Park project, upgrades for payroll and budgetary, the county’s Permanent Improvement Fund, and the creation of a new Government Vehicle Maintenance Department for the county, among others.
Ginn says the $2.16 million increase in annual appropriations is not unusual.
“The budget or appropriations have been consistent for the past few years,” she said. “The revenue can be drastically different, sales tax fluctuates up and down, and conveyance fees fluctuate due to the number of real estate sales. This affects the estimated revenue for each year.”
As far as current money goes, Darke County is in good shape; in fact, in much better shape than it was at this time in 2015. The county is carrying over into 2016 an unencumbered balance of more than $4.85 million, which is significantly higher than the 2015 carryover of $807,828.60.
Ginn credits “the conservative efforts of Darke County Elected Officials and Department Heads working together,” and says that the balance carried over will cover the county’s expenses until real estate tax settlement is finalized in March.
“The unencumbered balance is used to pay expenses until the [real estate tax] settlement is completed and disbursed,” she said.
Simply put, the budget appropriations allow each county department to know what it can spend in 2016. Including county agencies such as the Health Department, the Sheriff’s Office and Park District, there are 67 departments funded by the county’s General Fund as well as 133 funds outside the General Fund that the Auditor’s office tracks for budgeting purposes.
Ginn explained that the process for completing an annual budget is time consuming. She begins working on the process in July of each year starting with budget hearings. Appropriation worksheets are then sent to each department on November 1 for them to complete. During the final eight weeks of the year, the Commissioners and Auditor’s office work together to combine the information to arrive at its annual appropriations.
Following approval of the 2016 appropriations, Commissioner Mike Stegall said he appreciated the 2016 budget work put together by Ginn and the rest of the Auditor’s office.
“I want to thank Carol and her group,” he said. “We have a good bunch of people working there.”