Belmont County budget tops $20M

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Belmont County commissioners held a budget hearing Wednesday with Auditor Andrew Sutak. Sutak projected to certify $18,037,000 in appropriations for 2014 to all of the departments the commissioners oversee.

In addition, the auditor's office will set aside $400,000 for the bond debt payment, and $1.7 million projected for health insurance, not including outside agencies, bringing the total to $20,137,000.

Sutak will certify additional funds from this year's sales tax to pay the debt next year.

Sutak noted that about $300,000 will be needed from the current budget to cover debts, not including what may still be needed for water and sewer departments. The water and sewer debt has not yet been determined. He added that the sewer department debt could be as high as $188,000 at its worst case.

The funds will include the last payment for the jail and normal bond payments for other portions of the two jails.

"We will have one less debt payment going into next year," said Sutak, placing the amount at $165,600.

Sutak said he would monitor all incoming revenues with the goal of ensuring there is sufficient funds to cover next year's debt payments, as well as establishing the $400,000 carryover balance for cash flow.

Commissioners noted incoming new developments are expected in the county. He asked when the county will begin seeing the added income tax revenue and if the auditor's office has a projected increase.

Sutak noted that sales tax would take effect immediately while real estate tax occurs on structures completed as of Jan. 1 of the prior year, although some partial construction revenue may be picked up. He added that retail revenue will depend on whether or not sales are taken away from other county sites.

"There is a lot of growth that is going to happen in Belmont County over the next year in Belmont County. A lot," said Commissioner Matt Coffland, adding that projects such as road paving might be taken on.

Sutak added that there have been no sizable filings related to oil and gas interests as of yet.

"You might see one next year, maybe two, but it is minimal," he said. "We've got a lot of things coming. The year after that you're going to hopefully see a really big chunk volume."

Interest for this year is projected to be $650,000. The interest rates for next year's budget may be $500,000. Interest for this year started at .09 percent, this month was .03, with further decline possible by the end of the year.

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