County approves nearly $115 million in appropriations

GREENVILLE — Commissioner Mike Stegall attended his final commission meeting prior to his retirement at the end of the year. Prior to leaving, Stegall joined Commissioners Matt Aultman and Larry Holmes in preparing the county for 2023.

On the agenda for the Thursday meeting was the approval of appropriations for the coming year. According to Darke County Auditor Carol Ginn, the county has appropriated $114,845,702.12 in expenditures next year. The commission is responsible for approving approximately $38 million from the General Fund. There is nearly $73 million in funds scheduled to be expended from outside the General Fund.

Ginn said, “The increase in appropriation for 2023 represents the new Sheriff Department union contract, and a 5.5 percent increase for all other county employees, health insurance premiums increase, utilities and upgrades to county buildings.”

Commissioner Holmes questioned if this was a $20 million increase year-over-year. She admitted it is correct on Dec. 31, but incorrect as the commission signs for grants throughout the year.

Sheriff Mark Whittaker brought a contract to the commission in regards to the county’s agreement with Motorola Solutions, Inc. (formerly Spillman and now Motorola Flex) and covers the computer-aided dispatch and records management system. The Sheriff’s Department was facing a seven percent increase in the cost. “We have been negotiating this pretty much all summer, it seems like,” said Whittaker. They were able to finally come to agreement for a contract on a five-year plan. The sheriff said this allows him to knowingly budget the cost of the product over the next five years.

“This system is shared with the city of Greenville and the other village police departments in county have access to it, but the bulk of the cost is on Greenville and us,” said Whittaker. He explained the city pays approximately half of the cost. The county pays the initial cost and then invoices the city for its share.

Because they were in negotiations when their previous contract expired, the new contract is backdated to start Sept. 1, 2022. The cost for this year is $100,762.44, but the Sheriff’s Department had a prepaid training fund balance of $44,966.92 that will be applied to the first year costs. Beginning on Sept. 1, 2023, the cost will be $59,487.37 with increases each year over the following three years. The total contract for the Motorola Flex system is $353,554.82.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Margaret Hayes signed off on the agreement and praised Sheriff Whittaker for his effort to save the county money. “The sheriff has been working on this for a long time and he’s really done a good job because there was language in there…It’s taken months to get the language that we really didn’t like to a place where we could accept it,” said Hayes. “He had to work to get it. It didn’t come easy,” she added.

Following the approval of the contract with Motorola Solutions, Inc., the commissioners approved a Memorandum of Agreement with the city of Greenville. The agreement between the county and the city assures both parties they will share in the cost of the Motorola Flex system over the next five years unless parting ways is agreed upon mutually.

Prior to ending the session, several persons in attendance commended Commissioner Stegall on his 12 years of service to the county.

Ginn said, “I do want to thank Mike Stegall, we’ve had a lot of fun working together over the years.” Stegall responded, “There is not a better auditor in the state of Ohio.”

Sheriff Whittaker said, “It’s been a pleasure working with you and you’ve always been a good person to work with.”

Aultman shared, “On behalf of the county I think as a whole, thank you for what you’ve done for 12 years, plus the subsequent years prior with the township and all of the people you’ve affected hauling gravel out of Poeppelman’s, all the poor kids you made cry reffing football, but the one thing you did do in the six year’s I’ve been here is brought up my level of design of fashion.” He then explained the tie he was wearing was given to him by Commissioner Stegall when he first took office because his ties were too plain.

Hayes said, “I can’t say enough. I have loved every moment. Thank your for all that you have done.”

Dale Musser, facilities manager, added, “Thank you for bringing me out of retirement.”

Robin Blinn said, “It has been a joy to work with you for 12 years. Some days I just can believe what you say. It’s been fun and it’s good to have a place where you can laugh. I will miss you.”

Stegall said, “Thank you all for all you have done for me. It’s been great.”