DARKE COUNTY — Darke County Commissioners approved an increased budget of $20, 951,152 for the coming year at their bi-weekly meeting on Wednesday, and also passed resolutions affecting the Sheriff’s Office and several other departments.
In a letter to the commissioners, Darke County Auditor Carol Ginn, who was present for the meeting, submitted the new budget for approval with some uncertainty, stating it does not reflect the coming increase in the county’s health insurance costs, the exact amount of which is not yet known, as a result of the elimination of sales taxes on Medicare and Medicaid-related services, a proposed measure recently vetoed by Governor John Kasich. The budget does, however, address the need to replace revenue in the wake of the governor’s decision. Without new sources of revenue, Ginn warned, it may become necessary to defund programs related to criminal justice, economic growth, and public safety in the county.
“It’s really gonna be up in the air until the House and the Senate decide whether to veto the Governor’s ruling,” Commissioner Mike Rhoades responded when asked how he and the other commissioners felt about the newly approved budget, reflecting the county auditor’s concerns about loss of revenue and expressing hope that the Ohio legislature would act to remedy the situation.
“We’re hoping they override the Governor’s veto,” Commissioner Mike Stegall said, echoing his colleagues’ statements.
Darke County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker also attended the meeting, stating his support for a resolution that would continue to fund crime lab services provided to the county by the Montgomery County Coroner, an arrangement between the neighboring law enforcement agencies that has been in effect for more than twenty years.
“Our crime lab fees doubled this year,” Whittaker told board members, stating that the Miami Valley Crime Laboratory had recently reevaluated the fee structure for its services to other counties. Commissioners passed the resolution with a unanimous vote.
Also in attendance was County Business Administrator John Cook, who presented a motion to approve a lease agreement between the county and Harbor Freight Tools, which recently opened a store in Greenville. The lease commenced on April 11, while Harbor Freight will begin paying rent on August 9 of this year, with a prorated initial payment of $6267.19. Unless renewed, their lease on the property will expire on August 31, 2027.
“When you’re dealing with large corporations, they often want a period of time where they don’t pay rent,” Cook said. Cook also stated that Harbor Freight had made considerable improvements to the property after moving in, including a full upgrade of the facility’s electrical systems, the addition of five new rooftop heating and air units, and various renovations to the inside.
Other motions passed during the meeting included expense requests to cover transportation and lodging fees for members of the Juvenile, Common Pleas, and Greenville Municipal Courts; a certificate of appointment for a new Grants Coordinator in the office of Community Development; and a resolution establishing a new sewer sub-district in the villages of Palestine and Hollansburg. All measures were passed unanimously.