Highland County continues to see sales tax revenue fall as the year progresses – a trend which Highland County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin called “concerning” at the board’s weekly meeting Wednesday.
According to a report presented to the board by Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley, the county’s permissive sales tax receipts received in April this year saw a $62,000 decline from the same month last year.
March receipts, which have historically trended higher than other months, have remained above $640,000 for the past three years, but declined to $599,370 in 2018.
So far this year, according to the report, the county has received a total of $2,088,247 in receipts, down $229,548 from the same time period last year.
“We are still seeing a steady decline,” Wilkin said, adding that the trend is “concerning.”
Fawley told The Times-Gazette after the meeting that the county is now losing roughly $50,000 per month due to a federal ban on sales taxes for medical items purchased with insurance.
The State of Ohio, which also benefited from that tax revenue, conducted a survey and estimated the county would lose about $807,000 per year, Fawley said.
The state then offered two cash payments totalling $1.8 million for Highland County, said Fawley, to help “get us over the hump until other sales tax or whatever picks up.”
After that, the state replaced the tax with a fee, but none of the revenue from the fee was directed toward local governments, according to Fawley.
“The state now gets $1.03 for every dollar they thought they were going to lose,” he said. “The state is actually getting more money than was projected to be lost.”
Fawley said there’s some consolation in the fact that Highland County is not alone.
“It’s not just us,” he said. “Other counties are going through the same thing… there are some counties that are probably in worse shape than we are.”
In other business Wednesday, the board discussed the resignation of Highland County Probation Department Director Jeremy Ratcliff effective May 4.
In his letter of resignation, Ratcliff, who has worked at the probation department for the past 17 years, said he accepted employment as director of court treatment with Talbert House.
Wilkin said Ratcliff was responsible for a number of important revenue streams for his department and the county.
“He’s always done a great job,” Wilkin said. “We do hate to see him go.” Ratcliff has worked at the probation department for the past 17 years.
The commissioners also addressed the retirement of LuAnn Winkle, the director of Turning Point Applied Learning Center in Hillsboro, effective April 30.
Wilkin said Winkle was instrumental in securing the federal economic development grant for the Rocky Fork Lake area.
“She was a great asset to the county,” Wilkin said.
Winkle began her tenure at Turning Point in 2004.
In other matters, the commissioners accepted a $50,500 bid for replacing the Highland County Courthouse roof. Commissioner Terry Britton said crews will do the majority of the work in August.
The commissioners approved a resolution entering a joint partnership with the City of Hillsboro and the Highland County Community Action Organization to apply for grant funds from the state’s Community Housing Improvement Program.
The board also approved a separate motion authorizing the HCCAO to apply for the grant on behalf of the county, as well as a resolution approving an appropriation from unappropriated funds within the Highland County recorder’s budget in the amount of $1,000.
The commissioners also conducted a viewing of Ayres Road in Union Township and later approved a resolution to vacate the road.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.