Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley told the county commissioners Wednesday what they already suspected — the county has taken a revenue hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent business shutdowns.
He estimated a general fund shortfall of nearly $1 million from original estimates.
“The money we received in January was for the three previous months,” he said. “What we will get by the end of this month will be for January, February and half of March.”
The state mandated stay-at-home order and subsequent business closures began on Monday, March 23.
In his revised estimates, property tax revenue was reduced by $100,000, the permissive or sales tax reduction dropped $250,000, with other revenue from local government, fees and casinos revised downward from as low as $25,000 for local government to as high as $281,250 for casinos.
“What I did with estimating the permissive tax reduction was, based on estimates provided by the department of taxation, we took the three previous years and averaged what that would be for that month,” he said. “Then I deducted 25 percent, but as I got closer to the end of the year, I deducted 10 percent.”
He said in projecting future sales tax figures, “It’s anybodys guess since we don’t know when this thing is going to turn around,” and people begin shopping and making purchases again.
Unlike other counties that are in the process of budget reductions and personnel layoffs, Fawley said he doesn’t feel Highland County is at that point.
“We’re not in the shape that some counties are in,” he said. “They’re already voting to reduce budgets and are laying people off.”
He also pointed out that revenue from the courts had been severely curtailed, as were conveyance fees from property transfers, which in his revised budget concerning fees and other receipts showed a decrease of $125,000.
“When things break loose here in a few weeks, maybe things will catch back up with everything that we have lost up to this point,” he said.
In one bit of good news moneywise, Duncan said the commissioners had received the sales tax figures for the month of April, showing a more than $55,000 increase from one year ago. But he was quick to point out that that number was typically two-months behind.
Also Wednesday, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin gave commissioners an update on the recent Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, which resulted in the village being awarded a grant totaling more than $3.4 million.
The purpose of Wilkin being at Wednesday’s meeting was to verify that “everyone’s finances were still in order regarding the grant.”
He said that about a week and a half ago he was part of a conference call with members of the Ohio Rail Development Commission to confirm that matching funding from Greenfield, the commissioners and others were still viable in light of the current economic shutdown.
“We’re looking at about a 9- to 11-percent decrease in revenue in Greenfield,” Wilkin said. “Candle-Lite is shut down, so we’ve lost revenue there, so now we have to figure out our match for the big picture, since this virus hit us at a bad time.”
He said with both Adient and Candle-Lite not producing product, the railroad line owned by Greenfield isn’t generating revenue.
Britton assured Wilkin that “as of right now, our letter in support is still good.”
The 29-mile rail spur is the lifeline to 1,400 jobs with Greenfield’s Adient, Leesburg’s Candle-lite and New Vienna’s Huhtamaki.
In other matters, a total of five sealed bids were opened for a Storer Lane repaving project.
Cox Paving’s bid of $114,449 was the highest submitted, followed by a $111,250 proposal from The Shelley Co., $99,662 from Roberts Paving, $97,641 from Miller-Mason Paving and Brown County Asphalt with the lowest bid of $93,354.
All of the submitted bids were given to county engineer Chris Fauber for his consideration and review.
In other matters, two line item budget transfer resolutions were approved, in addition to approving a letter of support for an underground water line of the Highland/Pike waterline extension for Pike Water, Inc.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.