Athens County Commissioners approve temporary 2014 budget, including money for pay raises

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

A $13.1 million temporary general fund budget for 2014 was approved Tuesday by the Athens County Commissioners, and it includes money for pay raises.

The general fund provides money for operating the offices of all elected county officials — with the exception of the county engineer's office, which is funded through gasoline tax revenue and license plate fees.

Included in the 2014 budget is a 3 percent salary pool for non-union employee raises. Although the commissioners approved the money, it will be up to the individual officeholders to determine how they distribute the raises among their employees. Wages of unionized employees are covered by contract.

The 3 percent pool also applies to non-general fund departments that are under the jurisdiction of the commissioners, including Athens County Emergency Medical Service, 911, the dog shelter and the Athens County Water and Sewer District.

It will be the second year in a row that a 3 percent pool was provided, although in the four years preceding 2013 no additional money was given for raises.

The general fund budget approved Tuesday is based on a $13.1 million temporary certification of estimated 2014 revenue. The commissioners will approve a permanent budget after they receive a permanent certification, which will include an actual carryover figure once all 2013 expenses and revenues are known.

The permanent certification is expected to be at least $81,000 higher, although most of that money will go to fund jail costs, according to Commission President Lenny Eliason. The commissioners reduced the jail allocation in the temporary budget in order to balance it.

The commissioners also approved temporary non-general fund budgets for 2014.

They had received a number of requests for additional funding, including $44,320 sought by the Cooperative Extension Service that would, among other things, allow the parttime agriculture agent to be restored to fulltime. Also, United Appeal requested $10,000 to help fund the 211 information service.

Those requests are not in the temporary budget approved Tuesday, and Eliason said they will only be considered for the permanent budget if the permanent certification is significantly higher than expected.

The temporary budget also did not include salary funds to cover the possibility of the State Personnel Board of Review ruling that former deputy Shannon Sheridan, who challenged his firing, should be reinstated. The sheriff's office has expressed a desire to retain the person who was hired after Sheridan was dismissed.

The commissioners could be getting a 2014 permanent revenue certification as early as next week, although a final budget does not have to be adopted until March 31. Eliason said the commissioners will have time to tweak the budget before it must be adopted.