ST. CLAIRSVILLE Belmont County commissioners met with County Auditor Andrew Sutak Wednesday and held a budget hearing for Fiscal Year 2013.
Sutak noted the next two years were expected to be tight, with the county remaining at a status quo with some revenues up and some down.
Sutak noted that the county was facing local government cuts of 25 percent through 2013. They are looking at a loss of $73,000. The state will decide whether or not to continue whether this amount will change after next year's biennial report. This is in addition to the loss of $150,000 last year.
T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK
BELMONT COUNTY Auditor Andrew Sutak meets with Commissioners Charles R. Probst Jr., Matt Coffland and Ginny Favede to look at the county’s financial prospects for the next fiscal year.
He added that he would attempt a $500,000 carryover balance for cash flow for the base.
However, the county is looking at some increase in sales tax, which is the largest source of revenue.
Interest is remaining close to constant at $700,000 for next year, or $2 million from peak time. The 4 and 5 percent CDs and expiring.
"Everything's unknown. It's a give and take," he said.
Some extra monies were picked up on the conveyance of some properties. That will not be available for next year.
"I'm hoping that 2014 is going to be a breakout year with oil and gas," he said, noting business interests and new construction including hotels, facilities and a building at the industrial park. However, the county was a year away from collecting any taxes on these ventures. "Some things may start trickling in at 2014."
He stressed the importance of a severance tax.
Commissioner Ginny Favede noted the added use of facilities by oil and gas interests. She also said the County Commissioners Association was opposed to the governor's intention to collect severance tax from the counties and distribute the funds in an income tax reduction. She said the commissioner believe the host counties should receive their funds.
"The severance tax is crucial," said Favede.
Sutak noted that the general fund receives 2.3 mills, with local government down $237,000 from a previous $550,000 the county had been receiving.
He added that he is working on a petition he will deliver to the state legislature regarding the importance of local government and the impact of cuts on the service and infrastructure of local communities. He will be asking for signatures at municipal meetings.
Sutak also credited the commissioners with trying to meet with other county auditors and commissioners to fight for their local share of gas and oil monies.
"We're hoping the governor sees this and listens to what the commissioners and the county auditors from these certain counties that are being affected by gas and oil," he said.
Favede noted the county is expected to come up short with a deficit of $1.1 million by the end of the year, with the amount to be appropriated from the auditor's office.
"We are struggling," she said.
Sutak noted that the jail debt will see a reduction of $165,000 in 2013. Commissioner Matt Coffland added that there has been no added debt in the past three years.
Another issue of immediate import is the upcoming election. The election board has requested $161,216 total on top of the current budget to meet state standards. The department's expenses total close to $1 million. The commissioners will look at the board's expenses on a monthly basis.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org