LIMA — Due to legislative action by Ohio’s General Assembly, some elected county officials will be seeing pay raises in 2019 while the majority of county employees — those outside of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office — have been budgeted the same 2018 payrolls for 2019.
Former Gov. John Kasich vetoed pay raises for county and state elected positions in late December, but the Ohio General Assembly overrode Kasich’s veto of Senate Bill 296 on Dec. 27, effectively setting higher wages for elected officials statewide when they begin new terms.
For Allen County, that means Commissioner Greg Sneary and Allen County Auditor Rachael Gilroy saw state-mandated five percent increases in 2019.
Due to Gilroy’s effective promotion from Allen County Treasurer to Allen County Auditor in 2018 and the state legislature’s pay raise, Gilroy could see her salary jump by one third in two years.
The 2019 budget line item for auditor allocates more than $84,000 to the position. She earned $63,000 as treasurer in 2017.
Sneary’s five percent increase puts him more in line with other Allen County Commissioners, who earn close to $72,000 annually.
Finance Director Susan Wildermuth said final salary amounts for elected officials have yet to be determined by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, but the 2019 budget line items ensure allocations can cover any increases.
Both Sneary and Gilroy ran unopposed in both the May primary and November 2018 general election for their positions.
State Rep. Bob Cupp and state Sen. Matt Huffman voted to approve the pay raises for elected officials.
As for employees of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, a prior union negotiation bumped up 2019 salaries helping to increase the Sheriff’s Office total 2019 budget line item by six percent from $8.7 million to $9.3 million.
In comparison, Allen County’s total general fund, which the Sheriff’s Office is a part of, increased roughly three percent from $27.8 million to $28.6 million. That means the majority of the revenue increase pulled from the county’s tax base will be funding the Sheriff’s Office.
Allen County Commissioners typically pull together budget numbers in the fall by inviting department heads to request their 2019 budgets, which commissioners approve sometime in January.
“Sometimes, we have to prioritize,” Commissioner Jay Begg said. “If (department heads) come in with the adage they have to spend money to make money, we get into pretty in-depth discussions about that. Beyond that, we asked them: ‘If we were to have a cut, then give us an idea where to make those cuts in case we have a downturn in the revenue side.’ In most cases, they feel they’re running offices as efficiently as possible.”
Commissioners passed the 2019 budget Thursday morning, setting general and non-general fund allocations.
As for revenue, the county pulls most of its $28.6 million general fund from the one percent portion of sales tax. Other major sources of funding include property taxes, fees for service and interest earned from investments.
Allen County commissioners also set the county’s capital improvement budget Thursday morning at $2.5 million. Major purchases in the 2019 capital fund include upgrades to software used by the Sheriff’s Office, the county’s phone system and voting equipment.
“We’ve been pushing some of these major purchases down the road,” Begg said. “It’s time to pay the piper.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.