Franklin County officials knew two big projects — a new business park and emergency radio system — would increase the 2018 budget.
The numbers bore that out with debt service payments of $251,000 for Proximity Park and an estimated $212,000 for the new radio system, which was approved this week. Janet Paddock, county clerk, said those two items combined for a little more than a two-mill increase. The total mill increase for the 2018 budget was 1.949, which left the county operations down 0.72 mills from fiscal year 2017.
The budget was approved Thursday night by the Board of County Commissioners after a public hearing at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1418 S. Main St., Ottawa. The total approved budget mill levy was 63.159, which increased from 62.210 in 2017. No members of the public spoke at the hearing.
“We would have stayed level without these projects,” Paddock said during her presentation of the budget.
Derek Brown, county administrator, said the process went smoothly, despite the tax lid, which limited increases of 1.4 percent — five-year average rate of inflation or the Consumer Price Index — or the county would face an election for the approval for increases beyond that percentage.
“This was a different framework this year,” Brown said. “The elected officials and department heads have been involved every step of the way. We really approached this as a team. This is a very, very refined budget.”
The commissioners said the budget followed the county goals.
“Our investments that have been made in this budget are a great value to the county for the future and going forward,” Richard Oglesby, county commissioner, said. “Investment in Proximity Park has the potential to increase our tax base.”
Randy Renoud, county commissioner, said department heads and elected officials did an adequate job making sure services were not cut.
“We don’t want to take shortcuts,” he said.
Rick Howard, county commissioner, said all county departments considered the big picture when constructing their individual budgets.
“A lot of department heads understand where we are at,” he said. “They went out of their way to work with us. I am sure they would liked to have some things they don’t ask for because they know right now we can’t do that.”
Howard, who was elected in 2012, said the two projects were not unexpected expenses.
“This has been a little bit different this year with the radios and Proximity Park,” he said. “The radios, we had to do it or we would have had major issues with that. We all feel Proximity Park helps us down the road. We knew it would cost us some money to get involved with this.”
Brown, who went through the budget process for the first time, said now that a baseline has been established, putting together future budgets could be easier.
Howard said the effects of the tax lid may not be known for an extended period of time.
“The tax lid, I was not sure how that would play out,” he said.