ELYRIA — Lorain County will have an about $6.8 million carryover into next year, thanks in large part to the sales tax increase, but county Administrator Jim Cordes cautioned county commissioners that there are several areas in the county government that still need a lot of attention.
On Wednesday, the commissioners approved the 2018 general fund budget, and talked about the carryover of funds. Commissioner Ted Kalo said the sales tax increase helped stabilize the county’s justice system — the sheriff’s office, coroner’s office and prosecutor’s office.
“I think we carried through with what we said we were going to do, especially in regards to what’s going on,” he said.
In April, the 0.25 percent increase in the county’s sales tax rate took effect, which raised the rate from 6.5 percent to 6.75 percent. The increase is projected to generate nearly $10 million annually for county operations.
While the extra funds give the county a bit of a cushion, Cordes said the county has lost about $54 million in local government funding since cuts were made because of the Great Recession.
“Those weren’t just excess funds we had lying around,” he said. “That was $54 million in operating funds that the residents of Lorain County had to make up. That was a transfer of cost onto the local community.”
Cordes said many departments that were hit with staffing and budget cuts haven’t received any relief since the cuts were made.
“We need to look at some of the small departments in January,” Cordes said. “You (the commissioners) made significant cuts in 2008 and bigger cuts in 2010, and there has been no relief on those departments. The workload has increased in those departments, but the staffing remains reduced. There’s some issues, and now that things are stabilizing a bit, we have an obligation to go back and look at those general fund departments that may need some assistance.”
It wasn’t all bad news, though. The commissioners said the cushion in funding has allowed the county to fund 4-H for next year.