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Saturday, December 28, 2013

The price of being addicted to Gambling Revenues.....

Preble Co. conservative with budget

Raises for most employees not part of 2014 plan

Dec. 26, 2013
Written by
Pam Tharp
EATON, OHIO — The Preble County Board of Commissioners has approved the county’s 2014 budget, but the spending plan doesn’t include raises for most county employees.

Declining state support and questions about the impact of racinos on casino gambling revenues required a fiscally responsible county budget next year, officials said.

Preble’s $10.5 million budget is a conservative one, with commissioners asking that no raises be given in 2014, Commission President David Wesler said.

“There are always concerns about raises. Some departments did give raises, even though we asked them not to,” Wesler said.

Preble County Auditor Mindy Robbins said there also are revenue concerns, especially when it comes to Local Government Fund distributions and gambling revenues.

Local Government funds will drop another $10,000 in 2014 to $370,000, Robbins said. Ohio cities and villages are also seeing reductions in the state’s revenue sharing program.

“We used to get $1.7 to $1.8 million for all the municipalities,” Robbins said. “Now we get about $700,000. The good thing is the sales tax revenue is healthy. We hope it continues.”

Many local Ohio officials are concerned about possible shortfalls in promised gambling revenues. Ohio is expanding racinos, which use video lotteries, in hopes of pulling millions of gambling dollars back into Ohio from southeast Indiana’s three riverboat casinos, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

The racinos also may cut into Ohio casinos’ revenues, which will impact counties, because racino revenues aren’t distributed to counties, Robbins said. Racino funds are earmarked for the state’s school districts, which could be a plus for them, with racinos opened near Lebanon and Akron this month and three more planned next year for Youngstown, Cincinnati and Dayton.

Casino monies have not kept pace with what was first anticipated, Wesler said.

“We continue to work hard and find other ways to save taxpayers’ dollars,” Wesler said. “Last year, for example, we saved almost $50,000 on the county’s electric bill in our county office buildings through the commissioners’ electric aggregation program.”

Preble County expects $9.1 million in revenue in 2014 and will have a $3.1 million carryover, but revenues remain a concern, Robbins said.

“We are continuing to be as careful as possible with spending,” Robbins said. “It’s good to have the budget finished, so department heads know what they’ll have to work with.”

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