With the operational budget for Highland County now in place, commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton cited a robust economy for the increase in sales tax revenue at Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
Sales tax numbers provided to the commissioners by Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley showed an increase in December receipts of $70,901 over December 2018 numbers.
Overall sales tax figures compared with last year revealed a nearly half-million dollar increase, with 2019 figures averaging out to $458,925.
“There again, that’s why you have the increase in what you can do for the budget next year,” Fawley said. “It’s all because of the increase in the sales tax revenue.”
At their Dec. 11 meeting, commissioners approved a budget for next year amounting to $10.6 million, a $300,000 increase over last year.
Abernathy said that plans were progressing on a body scanner for the Highland County Justice Center, adding that sheriff Donnie Barrera would be consulting with the Fairfield County sheriff and evaluating the unit in place at the jail facility in Lancaster.
Britton said he was still in communication with CORSA, the property and liability risk sharing pool that was established by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, to see if any grant money was available to help with acquisition of the security device for the Highland County Jail.
Prior to recessing into executive session to discuss economic development, Greenfield Village Council member Phil Clyburn and City Manager Todd Wilkin both thanked the commissioners for their supporting roles in the continued economic development of the three villages served by the Greenfield rail line.
“I want to thank the commissioners for the aid that they gave to this railroad in Highland County that involves about 1,800 jobs,” Clyburn said. “We looked at a situation that was really important to this county and did something about it.”
He said that not only did it mean a lot for economic development in Greenfield, but also to industry supported by the rail line in Leesburg, New Vienna and the region.
Also Wednesday, the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission requested a letter of support for what Abernathy described as “an opioid-related response” to receive grant funding for a program the organization is involved with.
He said that the “Building an Effective Recovery-to-Work Ecosystem Learning Academy” program was designed to better coordinate the needs of workers who are in recovery with businesses that would employ them, and put those recovering from addiction back on the road to gainful employment.
In other matters, eight line item budget transfer resolutions were approved in addition to five contracts.
Two of the contracts were agreements between Highland County and the villages of Mt. Orab and Winchester for the housing of inmates, while another was a service contract amendment with Highland County Job & Family Services and FRS Transportation, a renewal of a contract with Tirrell Cumberland for the TC3 basketball program at the North High Business Center, and with the Highland County Historical Society for the installation of murals in the Highland County Courthouse.
“The historical society had taken a couple of murals out of the Colony Theatre and Judge Coss had expressed an interest in hanging those in the courthouse,” Duncan said. “We had a meeting some time back and decided that, depending on funding, that would be something that would be good to do.”
He said the historical society requested a $1,000 donation for restoration of the two murals, and that after budgeting considerations, the commissioners decided that they “could come up with the funding.”
In other business, floor tiles in four areas of the Highland County Justice Center were found to be in need of attention mainly due to age and useage, Duncan said, and commissioners moved to accept Tissot’s Home Center’s estimate for repair and replacement.
Clerk Mary Remsing said that in observance of the Christmas holiday, there will be no commissioners meeting next week, and the final meeting for 2019 would be on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, at 1:30 p.m.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.