Closing in on the operating budget for 2019 and getting reports ready for an annual first of the year audit commanded the attention of the Highland County Board of Commissioners at the Wednesday morning meeting.
Commissioner Terry Britton said final approval of next year’s budget would come at the year-end meeting on Dec. 27.
“We were hoping to have the budget completed by today,” he said. “But we decided to wait until next Thursday to make sure we have all the loose ends taken care of.”
Commissioner Jeff Duncan commended Britton’s efforts at meeting the budgetary numbers supplied by auditor Bill Fawley, but Britton said much of the credit for everything going so smoothly was because of clerks Mary Remsing and Nicole Oberrecht, who he thanked for “doing much of the work that made everything go so well.”
He indicated that commissioners would give their final vote of approval on the $10.15 million budget next Thursday, meeting one day later than usual due to the Christmas holiday.
Officially entitled “Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards,” Fawley told commissioners his office was doing the necessary paperwork to submit reports for the routine, annual audit.
“All of the federal grants have to be audited before it becomes part of our regular audit,” he said. “The people that we contract with to do this go through all the things that Job and Family services has, sometimes the county engineer has federal awards for things he’s involved with, basically any federal grant money we’re involved with, but the audit costs $5,000.”
Commissioners approved a letter of agreement to release funds to the audit contractor, who indicated they wanted to begin shortly after the start of the new year.
Duncan said there was good news concerning sales tax receipts for the month of December, telling fellow board members that the numbers were up from one year ago, but not enough to erase a year-end deficit of about $530,000 from the year before.
The shortfall was due to a decrease in sales tax revenue stemming from a tax law change regarding durable medical equipment sales to managed care organizations, such as nursing homes.
As previously reported in The Times-Gazette, Fawley said that Ohio had been collecting sales tax from Medicaid payments for managed care organizations on equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers.
The federal government stepped in earlier this year and told Ohio to cease the practice.
Equipment paid for by private insurance wasn’t subject to the sales tax.
Commissioner Gary Abernathy said that Aramark has submitted a three-year contract for continuation of food services to the Highland County Jail.
Aramark has been the food services contractor since the corrections facility opened in 2001, and Abernathy also reported some good news regarding the company’s recent proposal for installation of a body scanner.
“We’re looking at a situation where there’s going to be a savings in a back-up communications system,” he said. “This would allow us to basically buy the scanner outright instead of having to do long-term financing.”
Duncan added the circumstances with the back-up system had been studied last year, and said he felt that an upgrade could be accomplished that would result in enough savings to allow the county to purchase the new high-tech security equipment.
Also Wednesday, commissioners approved nine resolutions, eight of which were line item expenditure transfers within the budget.
The other resolution was the reappointment of Kim Douglas to the Highland County District Library Board of Trustees for a seven-year term, beginning in February.
Commissioners also signed off on seven contracts, four of them being agreements for housing of prisoners between Highland County and the villages of Gallipolis, Peebles, Lynchburg and West Union for fiscal year 2019.
Prior to adjourning the weekly session, Duncan wished everyone in Highland County a merry Christmas on behalf of the board of commissioners.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.