Richland County courthouse

The Richland County Administration Building is located at 50 Park Ave. East in downtown Mansfield.

MANSFIELD -- Concerns over the potential impact of rising inflation have Richland County Auditor Pat Dropsey cautioning county commissioners on sales tax revenue projections for 2022.

That caution may lead commissioners to tighten the county's belts in terms of spending next year.

Richland County is expected to receive around $24 million in sales tax in 2021. Dropsey's estimate for commissioners, who are in the budgeting process for next year, is that number will decline to around $20.9 million in 2022, a projected decrease of 12.5 percent.

"I am conservative in my estimates because I have no idea how inflation at our current rate will affect sales tax revenue in 2022," Dropsey said. "As things pan out, adjustments can be made.

"We haven't experienced inflation like this in a long time. As the price of products increase, people may spend less. I don't know yet how it will affect sales tax revenue."

Dropsey commissioners

Richland County Auditor Pat Dropsey meets with county commissioners in September. (Richland Source file photo)

The national consumer price index showed the price of consumer products and services jumped 6.2 percent from October 2020 to October 2021 — the fastest 12-month increase in nearly 31 years.

"(Projections) are often based on history. But we haven't had it like this for a long time. So I am trying to be somewhat more conservative so commissioners don't get themselves in a bind when it comes to their spending," the auditor said.

Commissioner Tony Vero said total projected revenues for 2022, including sales tax, are at $36 million. Department budget requests at this point total $41.8 million.

"We will be talking with Pat about his conservative estimates," Vero said. "We need to have more discussion."

Vero said the county expects to have a $7.8 million carryover into 2022 and a $1.7 million budget stabilization, i.e. rainy day, fund.

The county also has $3.2 million that commissioners set aside as revenue replacement from the American Rescue Plan Act. Those funds cannot go into the general fund, but can be used for expenses authorized under the relief act.

Commissioner Darrell Banks said commissioners, who continue to meet with department heads to consider spending requests, will begin final budget work in early December.

Also on Tuesday, commissioners approved a $1.3 million construction bid for Shelly and Sands Inc. to construct a new roundabout at the Cook Road/Illinois Avenue intersection with Mansfield-Lucas Road.

A grant from the Ohio Dept. of Transportation will cover 90 percent of the construction costs, according to Richland County Engineer Adam Gove. The work is expected to be done in the summer of 2022.

Commissioners also approved a new three-year contract with correctional officers in the sheriff's department, as well as the civilian clerical and technical employees in the RCSO.

The clerical and technical employees will receive 3-percent pay increases during each year of the contract, which runs from Jan. 1, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2024.

Corrections officers and supervisors will receive an "equity adjustment" through reduced "steps" in the first year of the contract and 3-percent pay increases in each of the last two years.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"