Richland County courthouse

Richland County Courthouse

MANSFIELD -- It appears Richland County will not need to dip into its rainy day fund or its budget carryover to make it through 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks in part to federal CARES Act relief funds, Commissioner Tony Vero said Tuesday the county will not need to utilize the $5 million unappropriated carryover it began the year with, nor tap into the almost $1.5 million rainy day fund.

"Commissioners have no intention of using either of those funds," Vero said.

When the pandemic reached Ohio in March, and the state shut down non-essential businesses, the financial danger to local governments seemed imminent. Some forecast a revenue reduction as much as 20 percent for the year.

However, through September, the county's eight primary sources of revenue, which are responsible for 80 percent of its annual revenue, are down just a collective 1.95 percent when compared to the first nine months of 2019, according to Vero.

Sales tax receipts are actually up 2.32 percent over the same time period in 2019, though the county's budget for 2020 projected an increase of 6 percent.

"So we are doing better than last year, but worse than we projected (in the 2020 budget)," Vero said.

"We are slowly trending up, just not to where we expected because of the pandemic," Vero said.

Commissioner Marilyn John said the local economy as not taken as bad a hit as it could have been, but she recognized many local businesses are suffering during the pandemic and some have closed permanently due to the pandemic.

"We are probably not going to meet (budget) projections," she said. "In March, I never would have dreamt we would still be talking about (COVID-19) and look what's still going on around the globe. None of us know when this is going to end.

"All of our departments have done an exceptional job of keeping expenses down this year," John said. "I feel like we are in pretty good shape for 2020."

On Tuesday, commissioners had their first 2021 budget hearings with the Child Support Enforcement Agency, the county building department the sheriff's office --including law enforcement, the county jail and 911 emergency dispatching.

Across the three operations, the budget request was $15.8 million, including $6.6 million for law enforcement, $7.9 million for the jail and $1.2 million for 911 dispatching.

That would be an increase of 14 percent over 2020, though it includes a planned-for 27th payroll period during 2021, as well as several new cruisers, a new finger-printing machine and other equipment in the new 911 center and the jail.

Commissioners said they have received more than $37 million in departmental budget requests for 2021.

Hearings for each department will continue for the next several weeks and the budget will be finalized by the end of the year.

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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?"