Work In Progress

BELMONT COUNTY’S economic picture appears to have a bright future.

For right now, however, that picture is still somewhat cloudy.

County Auditor Andrew Sutak presented a financial update at the most recent weekly commissioners’ meeting. It did contain some positive nuggets but also tempered by reality.

Sutak noted that Belmont County has so far seen a total increase of $400,000 in sales tax. That is splendid news. Moreover, it is a total that may continue to rise as the county is experiencing growth thanks to the oil and gas business.

That gain, however, was buffered by a major drop in interest money earned by the county, a drop of nearly $1.7 million. That is a sizable shortcoming.

A spike in expenses is a further drain on the county’s economic viability, as is a loss of personal property tax. Sutak noted that the county, “lost millions and schools are taking a beating because there’s no personal property.”

Local governmental entities are already reeling from the reduction in Local Government Funds.

While the $400K increase in sales tax revenue is a nice-shot-in-the-arm to county coffers, it is no cure-all. Far from it.

Belmont County officials are awaiting to feel the impact of oil and gas revenues. Only two wells are currently drilling and any revenue realized may not come down the pike until 2015.

The shale boom is going to happen — in time. It hasn’t even scratched the surface on what it can do for the Belmont County economy.

The future of the county is filled with potential and optimism. It just hasn’t arrived yet.