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Commissioners approve $27M budget

Andy Ouriel • Mar 31, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Erie County’s three commissioners achieved their top priority this week.

After weeks of analysis and debate, they finally approved a budget.

In total, the elected officials approved spending about $113.4 million on dozens of county services in 2014, including water, sewer, environmental and construction projects.

Included within the $113.4 million pie is a $26.9 million slice accounting for the general fund, which covers payroll and subsidizes many daily services, including court, sheriff and maintenance operations.

For six consecutive years, commissioners have approved a general fund budget with income levels either equaling or eclipsing expenses, avoiding deficits and additional debt while generating year-overyear surpluses.

“To me, it’s good business,” Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo said. “You are planning for the future”

Upon taking office in 2009, Shenigo ushered in a new era of mandated, in-theblack budgeting policies. Shenigo, along with county administrator Pete Daniel, spearheads the county’s budget and related spending policies.

A sales tax increase produced larger-than-usual income and expense levels in 2014 compared to years past. Commissioners, when accounting for additional sales tax money, are expected to work with a $34.1 million budget this year.

In July, county commissioners voted to raise the sales tax rate for one year. The increase, which went into effect this past October, should generate an extra $7.2 million in 2014 for a yearly total of about $22 million in sales tax money.

Erie County commissioners reserved this $7.2 million strictly for infrastructure upgrades and debt payments.

The breakdown of the sales tax increase then and now:

•6.5 percent: Tax rate prior to October, with 5.5 percent going to the state and 1 percent going to Erie County.

•7.25 percent: Tax rate from Oct. 1, 2013 to Oct. 1, 2014, with 5.75 percent going to state and 1.5 percent going to Erie County.

•6.75 percent: Tax rate from Oct. 1, 2014 going forward, with 5.75 percent going to state and 1 percent going to Erie County.

Ohio lawmakers permanently raised the sales tax rate by one-quarter percent.

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