By Nancy Bowman
Miami County's finances "remain strong," but face challenges from state and federal reductions, county Commissioner John "Bud" O'Brien said during the annual State of the County luncheon Nov. 1 in Troy.
O'Brien and fellow commissioners Jack Evans and Greg Simmons provided an update on county departments and projects.
Money-wise, O'Brien said sales tax income was up for the year by around 3 percent but was down the last two months because of the loss to the county of the sales tax from Medicare services. That loss due to federal changes could total an estimated $850,000 a year.
The loss of tax income along with proposed changes in distribution of the local government funds by the state could mean that the county budget surpluses of $300,000 to $1 million seen during the past eight years could be wiped out, O'Brien said.
The commissioners also are monitoring the proposed federal tax code changes including possible elimination of state and local income tax deductions. The county has joined the National Association of Counties to help fight such proposals that would be detrimental to local residents and local government, O'Brien said.
Evans, the current commission president, talked about the works of various departments including the county engineer's department that this year paved nearly two times the usual number of miles thanks to savings last winter from the lack of use of road salt.
Evans noted the county also was able to pave County Road 25A between Troy and Piqua thanks to a $1.8 million project that was paid primarily by grants and $234,000 from the county.
In addition, Evans said the county development department and its building inspectors continue to be busy locally and with five other counties with which it contracts to do inspections.
He also pointed to statistics from county Coroner William Ginn, MD, who reports a record number of overdose deaths this year. "It just keeps getting worse with the heroin epidemic," Evans said.
Simmons, the newest commissioner in his first year in office, said he continues to learn on the job.
He talked about law enforcement under new Sheriff Dave Duchak, who is in his first year as elected sheriff, and the efforts by the county prosecutor's office to investigate and prosecute drug cases.
The commission also will be discussing soon what will happen next with the former county home property east of Troy with the closing this month of the David L. Brown Youth Center program.
"I believe the commissioners and the county employees are up to the challenges of 2018," Simmons said.
O'Brien talked briefly about the upcoming study of the Courthouse Plaza and planned update. Although an estimate has not been received, the county has requested around $1 million from the state capital budget for a project.
The county also is working with consultants to study the County Road 25A corridor between Troy and Piqua and future development possibilities.