Officials Expect Revenue To Rise

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County officials project the county will take in an additional $2.5 million in revenue in 2015, while next year’s budget requests from county agencies total about $2 million more than they did for 2014.

Fiscal officer Barbara Blake presented to county commissioners Wednesday a summary of the proposed 2015 budget commissioners will be considering and tweaking in the coming months. The requests are not the final appropriations commissioners will approve in January.

County Auditor Andrew Sutak has projected commissioners will have a $24,434,700 general fund budget to work with next year – an increase of $2,523,700 over this year’s expected revenue of $21,911,000, Blake told commissioners.

The anticipated rise in revenue is expected to come in the form of more sales tax revenue being generated in the county, according to Commissioner Mark Thomas.

But Belmont County’s 38 departments have collectively asked for a total of $21,860,772 for 2015, up $1,964,252 from $19,896,519 in requests for this year. The amounts of requests submitted by each individual department were not included in the summary figures.

The information, though, does indicate most departments are seeking budget increases for 2014. Among these are county commission, auditor, treasurer, prosecuting attorney, records commission, court of appeals, magistrate, juvenile court, probate court, clerk of courts, coroner, county and municipal courts, board of elections, buildings and grounds, sheriff, recorder, public defender, and engineer’s offices.

The biggest increase requested, though, came under the line item miscellaneous, where an additional $493,500 is said to be needed in 2015. Blake said that money would be set aside to cover anticipated legal fees in 2015.

The county also expects to pay $260,949 more for employee insurance, pensions and taxes next year. The sheriff’s department is requesting and additional $252,762, and commissioners also want to set aside an extra $155,000 for contingencies.

Other departments, meanwhile, reduced their budget requests for 2015, including common pleas court, Belmont County 911 and veterans services.

Commissioners will meet next month with Sutak to discuss revenue intake for next year, according to Blake. As the end of the year approaches, commissioners will schedule budget hearings with each department to consider their monetary requests.