MANSFIELD -- Richland County officials, while seeing a financial hit to the general fund during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tuesday are they are not yet ready to start making budget cuts.
Commissioners said they, along with Auditor Pat Dropsey, project revenue for the next three months will come in about $800,000 less than projected in the 2020 budget, which had forecast a 4.5 percent overall revenue increase going into the year.
Commissioners met with other elected officials and department heads April 21 and asked that they begin looking at ways to trim expenses while the county waited to hear firmer sales tax numbers.
The lag-time between collection of the sales tax and disbursement to an individual county is about three months, commissioners said.
Richland County began 2020 with a $4.8 million budget carryover and also has a $1.3 million rainy day fund.
"Other counties began making 20 percent budget cuts in spending for the rest of 2020," Commissioner Marilyn John said. "We didn't give a percentage. We did ask they begin looking at their spending to see if there are ways they can reduce."
Commissioner Tony Vero said, "We are doing a little better on expenses. This is not just a revenue exercise. It's an expense exercise."
On May 12, commissioners said they project a total drop of up to $2.5 million in 2020 general fund revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The county has a $34.5 million general fund budget in 2020, including adding $1.5 million to its reinvestment fund for next year, a pool from which the county makes capital expenditures.
"We were tracking about 7 percent ahead of last year (before Gov. DeWine shuttered the state's economy in March in response to COVID-19)," Vero said.
In the last few weeks, the governor has begun opening up various segments of the economy, provided safety protocols are observed.
Commissioners said they would schedule another budget meeting in June with elected officials and department heads.
"There are some legal issues with us just telling elected officials to cut 'X' percent from their budgets. We can say, 'We would like you reduce,'" Vero said. "Other elected officials do have some autonomy and I think we need to afford them that."
John and Vero both said they visited local businesses over Memorial Day weekend and said they saw signs local residents were returning to auto dealerships and retail outlets.
In another matter Tuesday, commissioners approved the disbursement of $113,908 in refunds to non-general fund agencies from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.