By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County Auditor Adrian Biviano says the county’s finances may not be much better in 2013 than they were in 2012, despite anticipated increases in sales-tax and casino revenue.
He anticipates that revenue for 2012 will be essentially “flat,” so spending also is likely to remain the same, he said.
The factors that go into that are state funding, sales-tax revenue and a new source of funding — casino profits.
State funding — something officials call the Local Government Fund — has decreased by $2 million since 2008 and will drop an additional $700,000 in 2013.
Sales-tax revenue is up by about $800,000 so far this year, though the county saw a larger increase in 2011 — about $1.8 million.
State casino revenue has totaled about $580,000 during a half-year of collections.
Sales-tax and casino revenues suggest that overall revenue in 2013 might exceed 2012 revenue, but whether that means another $1 million or half million, county officials don’t know.
One thing they do know is that the budget the Trumbull County commissioners are expected to approve in the coming months most likely will include about $1 million more just for health care.
The commissioners approved a $42.4 million budget in 2012 and are expecting to pass one for $42 million to $43 million for 2013, Biviano said.
That doesn’t leave much spending money for the county department heads, who each spent some time with county commissioners Monday and Tuesday discussing their budget requests for 2013. They requested $48 million.
Sheriff Thomas Altiere, for example, asked for $1.4 million more. His department is the largest in the county.
“There is absolutely no way we have that kind of money,” Commissioner Paul Heltzel said of Altiere’s request, which included money for new cruisers and global-positioning systems to track the movements of 20 cruisers.
The commissioners won’t increase the sheriff’s budget by $1.4 million, but they have little choice but to provide additional money to cover the county’s portion of the health-care costs, Heltzel said.
Health care is slated to rise by about 15 percent this year. Part of that increase will come from the employees’ 10 percent share. The county will have to cover the rest.
Though Biviano says he always makes conservative estimates of county income, Heltzel said he’s optimistic that the economy will get better in 2013.
“Employment is up. Car sales were high in 2012,” Heltzel said.
The county has had carry-over and rainy-day funds of about $7 million in recent years, Biviano said, and a goal of this year’s budget is to maintain that.
The county’s rainy-day fund has dropped because of the recession but was around $10 million several years ago.