CIRCLEVILLE — The Pickaway County Commissioners have approved the 2021 budget.

Estimated revenues for 2021 are about $20.4 million with expenses projects at approximately $21.2 million. About $700,000 will be spent on capital projects in 2021.

Among the changes to this year’s budget are three percent increases in salaries and additional personnel.

“There were no other real major changes,” Brian Stewart, commissioner, said. “Maintenance staff is larger, cleaning staff is larger, we added a part-time person at the dog shelter and the IT department will now be in house.”

Previously, the IT department was done though a contract and those workers were not county employees, but that will change moving forward.

“We’re a growing county, the census comes out this year and we expect it to grow,” Jay Wippel, commissioner, said. “As the county grows, the budget needs to grow both on the expense and revenue side.”

Stewart said the workload for the county employees has gone up 40 percent in eight years.

“When you look at the number of bills being processed and one person can’t be processing those in the way we have, so we have to expand,” he said.

The county will finish the year with an $11.5 million carryover up from $8.7 million from last year. The fund was at $2.2 million in January 2013.

When it comes to 2020 and it’s impact on 2021, the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the county finances is at the forefront of the discussion. Having the carryover helped.

“Being in really good financial shape going into it was a real positive,” he said. “We didn’t have to scramble to plug holes.”

Stewart said the CARES Act funding has allowed the commissioners to make investments for the future.

“Even without COVID, money we’d have increased our cash reserves with $9.6 million in cash reserves,” Stewart said. “The CARES act has been a big help. My suspicion is that when the bill was passed, there would be a lot of enormous expenses to keep up with it, but that wasn’t the case for us. In March, when this all began, we didn’t have any cares money and we went to work spending what we needed to.”

“We have the ability to telework now; we’ve got remote access, camera systems and I think we’ve put the money to good use,” he said. “Frankly, the CARES Act has set us up for the future.”

Henson said when they suspended the $1 million in capital projects, things were in good shape.

“Things were so up-to-date at that point and it wasn’t critical that we had to do those to get business done,” he said. “We were prepared for something, we don’t know what. [Wippel] and I being in agriculture all our life, that’s the nature of the beast.”

Stewart said COVID did impact some discussions and create plans for mass vaccinations, community shelters and where to host those things.

“We have an answer now for those,” Stewart said. “It’s nice to see the work that we’ve done has set us up pretty well.”

Henson said the Berger merger with the larger OhioHealth was a blessing.

“I thank God everyday that we got it done,” Henson said.

With limited cash on hand had the merger not happened, Berger would have been in more trouble financially.

“If we had waited another year, that deal would have looked a lot differently,” Wippel said.

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