Ross County — The county auditor says they are in the best financial position in years, with about $35.2 million in the general budget, and a grand total of about $107 million including special revenue funds. He said the $17.7 million cash carryover is huge.
I feel it’s always good to get an expert opinion on the new year’s budget to help give closure to the old, so after Ross County Auditor Jeff Lehner offered to give me that, I took him up on it after the commissioners adopted the budget Tuesday. (They let the numbers simmer for a week until passing them after the Christmas holiday.)
Lehner educated me on the government budget over a long chat in his office, and you can hear details in my video interview below.
I always assume there is a single number that represents a government budget. (I’m bad with numbers and money!) But Lehner pointed out that there are two main budget numbers.
The smaller general budget is funded by taxes collected by Ross County or for it by the state, which funds county departments. Essential county government is only about 33% of the 2024 total.
The larger special revenue part of the budget is funded by each fund’s levies, fees, or grants, and is thus outside of the general fund.
The total budget number represents all the money flowing through the county, as directed by the county commissioners.
For example, Lehner pointed out that the county engineer will be given about $408K from the general fund for personnel and some equipment and supplies. However, his special revenue funds – like the state gas tax and motor vehicle fees to support road construction and maintenance – is alone almost $8M. Additionally, money from the state usually has strings attached, including dictating where it goes.
But this is a plan based on an educated guess of how much money the county will have, and Lehner pointed out that the budget is adjusted for reality over the year. 2023 started with a budget set at $31.6M, and finished with little more than $33M. Lehner said prices will rise, situations will happen – but also there can be opportunities that are worth buying.
Either way, the auditor told me that Ross County is financially stronger than it has probably been in a generation – even after the COVID years.
The exact numbers:
- Carryover from 2023 – $17,704,390.72
- Estimated Revenue – $35,156,243.82
- General Budget – $35,277,292.76
- Total Budget – $107,822,366.68