MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Commissioners highlighted the county’s success and future challenges during its annual Chambers of Commerce “State of the County” address at the Concord Room in Troy.
Commissioner Jack Evans thanked the chambers of commerce and then kicked off the reports by reminding the audience, “a lot of this we’re talking about is your tax dollars so you really ought to see how it’s being used.”
Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien had the task to report on the finances in Miami County with good news currently, but an uncertain outlook for the future at the hands of state and federal tax proposals.
“The good news is the finances in Miami County is strong. Our sales tax remains the lowest sales tax rate in any of the counties that are contiguous to us,” O’Brien said. Yet, with a federal ruling effective July 1, sales tax can no longer be collected on Medicare services. The county’s sales collection dropped three percent and projects a $850,000 in less sales tax from the cut.
O’Brien said the county has $30 million in appropriations, which he said tick up “lightly” every year.
“We are having budget hearings now. I can tell you based on what we’ve seen so far, with a couple more hearings to go, we haven’t seen increases being requested by our departments and by our elected officials,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said the county has had budget surpluses in the last eight budget cycles ranging from $350,000 to $1 million.
The $850,000 potential loss in the Medicare sales tax loss and state proposal to defund Ohio counties’ share of local government funds to pay for elections and public defenders, could wipe out the county’s surplus.
O’Brien said, “We looked at the numbers, Miami County would lose $350,00 a year if (the state) did that proposal. We’ll be arguing against that proposal and are arguing that proposal.”
With those two cuts alone, O’Brien said the county could see a reduction in its collections of $1.2 million.
O’Brien said the commissioners are also watching the federal tax proposal and how it may impact Miami County families.
A local project being considered is to redesign the Miami County Courthouse and Safety Building plaza, which could start next year. Commissioners have applied for state funding for the project.
O’Brien also said the commissioners have decided to wait on exterior remodeling of the west side of the Hobart Government Center until the Kettering Troy Hospital is complete.
Commissioner Greg Simmons said he’s learned a lot about the county system during his first 10 months in office.
“This has been a learning process for me even though I retired from the county .. I realize there is a whole lot more that I needed to know,” Simmons said, thanking the Evans and O’Brien and the commissioner’s office staff for their support. “Whatever the challenges may be in 2018, we’ll be up for that.”
Evans reported the county added Auglaize County to its list of five additional counties Miami County provides building inspection services. Evans said Miami County inspects the second largest building regulation area in the state, second to Cuyahoga County, near Cleveland.
Evans closed with a grim statistic tied to the opioid epidemic. Evans reported the county has recorded 203 deaths with 53 autopsy requests through the county coroner’s office. Of the 53 autopsies, 33 deaths are likely tied to opioid overdose. Evans reported Coroner William Ginn expects autopsies are expected to increase by more than 20 from last year.
“It’s not over, it just keeps getting worse with the heroin epidemic,” Evans said.
Commissioner Simmons address the recent announcement of the closing of the David L. Brown youth detention center.
“One hard decision the (Judge W. McGregor Dixon) had to make, I know it had to be really hard for him, was to close down the David L. Brown (youth detention home),” Simmons said. “One of the reasons for that was the declining population and it just wasn’t financially feasible to keep it open.”
Simmons said the commissioners will be looking at the property in 2018 and begin to plan what to do with the property located on Children’s Home Road, outside of Casstown.
Simmons also reported the sheriff’s office is working with an advisory committee to increase security of the county’s Safety Building. Simmons also reported the sheriff’s office is exploring adding a fiscal officer to the office staff in lieu of filling two clerks positions.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ STATE OF THE COUNTY NUMBERS
• 16,000 cases filed in Miami County Municipal Court since Jan. 1
• 2.6 percent tax delinquencies, a 10 year-low down from 3 percent last year
• 24.6 miles of county roads paved, double the miles from a year ago due to mild winter
• $1.645 million spent on county roadways
• $1.18 million on paving and roadwork for County-Road 25-A from Troy to Piqua, with the county’s share only 25 percent of that cost
• 424 miles total of county ditches mowed three times per year
• 22,000 linear feet of water/sewer line for Phoneton, Brandt and Bethel Schools
• 2,276 square miles of building regulation jurisdiction in five counties
• 1,775 building inspections, generating $1.14 million to Miami County
• 203 deaths with 53 autopsy requests for the coroner’s office
• 274 contracts, 40 township opinions and $2 million worth of delinquent taxes collected by the Prosecutor’s Office
• West Central Juvenile Detention Center has contracted 37 out of 44 beds
• 3.9 percent unemployment rate in Miami County currently; Ohio 4.7 percent and National rate is 4.1 percent