Finances are so tight in Huron County that commissioners are waiting until the last minute to pass an interim budget for 2008.
Commissioner Mike Adelman said the board is considering an interim general fund budget of $15.535 million, an increase of about $3,000 from last year. He said a final budget must be passed by March 31.
“We’re probably not going to pass a budget until Dec. 18,” Commissioner Ralph Fegley said. “It is such a tight budget we want to take a look at the latest sales tax numbers.”
He said sales tax collections have been down recently.
“Sales taxes the last two months haven’t been good at all,” Fegley said, but the interim budget must be passed by the end of the year.
Most department heads have turned in budgets similar to last year.
“It was surprising,” Fegley said. Some requested money for three percent raises for employees, but Fegley said that would have to wait until money was available.
“I’m doubtful we’re going to be able to make that,” he said.
The only elected official who requested a large increase was Sheriff Richard Sutherland. Fegley said he understood the sheriff’s position.
“Obviously, we’ve been short in the sheriff’s area for several years. He’s running short on the number of people he has and he’d like to get back to a full complement,” Fegley said, adding that Sutherland requested about $300,000 more than in 2007 to hire more employees for both the jail and road patrol.
“There were several other requests, but they were minor by comparison,” Fegley said.
Adelman agreed that most requests for increases were modest.
“All the office holders did an excellent job of laying out their budget requests,” he said.
Adelman said most of the $3,000 increase commissioners are now considering is due to higher energy costs.
“Hopefully, the energy-savings project at the court house and office building will help us in that area,” Adelman said.
He said projected annual savings for the $1.8 million project is $120,000 to $150,000.
“That means a 20-year payback,” Adelman said. The savings will be due to both lower energy usage and lower maintenance costs.
“It was a constant battle” to keep the old boilers working, he added.
Commissioners did not hold a regular meeting today since both Gary Bauer and Adelman are attending the state convention for county commissioners. Fegley attended Monday and returned home Monday night.