The county saw an increase in revenue last year giving commissioners a 9 percent bump up to $59 million in allocation funds for 2013, however the county administrator cautioned them to be frugal saying that hard times could be around the corner.
Higher sales tax revenues, lower fuel and utility expenses and casino revenues have contributed to the increase in overall county revenue.
Despite the increase in allocation funds, Howard Poston, Greene County administrator, projects lean times are ahead for the county for the next two years.
The recent increase in the Social Security tax, from 4.2 to 6.2 percent, and potential increases in health insurance premiums has Poston concerned that workers will spend less in the county leading to a reduction in sales tax revenues.
“If they pay more money on premiums they will have less money to spend on things with sales tax,” Poston said.
If the economy doesn’t pick up, real estate transfer taxes and building inspection fees will continue to decline, Poston said. Last year they were down $300,000.
“You try to put some money aside and not appropriate it this year,” Poston said.
The county administrator has not pinpointed an exact amount that he will recommend commissioners should set aside, but expects to have a more concrete number for Tuesday’s commissioner meeting.
Poston does not project significant cuts to the county department budgets for 2013. However, without a major election this year, Poston said the most obvious budget cut will be the county board of elections. Last year the agency spent more than $1 million, but it typically spends between $750,000 and $800,000 in years where there is no presidential or gubernatorial election.
The other wild card in this year’s county budget is state and federal budgets, Poston said. The county budget has to be finalized before April 1. The state has until July 1 and any additional state cuts to local funding can significantly impact the county’s budget.
“This is the year where we will feel the most impact.”