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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

2010 budget in Wood County is built on flat revenue

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Brown Brown
LISA CASWELL / BLADE Enlarge

BOWLING GREEN - Wood County commissioners Tuesday approved a budget for 2010 that projects stagnant or slightly declining revenues, but they said the county's future has a number of bright spots.

As they see it, Wood County has its hands in the kind of businesses that bode well for the future: green technologies and rail transportation.

"The vice president of the United States coming to Wood County to a solar company indicates, I think, that Wood County is doing it right," Commissioner Tim Brown said, referring to Joe Biden's recent visit to Willard & Kelsey Solar Group in Perrysburg.

Mr. Brown pointed to another Wood County manufacturer of solar panels, First Solar Inc., the commercial wind turbines spinning just west of Bowling Green, and the CSX Transportation intermodal hub now under construction outside North Baltimore as keys to the county's economic future.

"Two major shifts and trends right now are green energy and the way we move and transport goods, and we're at the forefront of both of those," he said.

Although Wood County is in better financial condition than many Ohio counties, the county is still looking at a drop in sales tax, no growth in property taxes, a decline in local government funds from the state, and stagnant investment income.

The 2010 budget estimates overall revenues at $128.2 million, which includes slightly more than $40 million for the general fund.

Mr. Brown said sales tax revenue - the county's largest source of income - is down about 4 percent so far this year.

"That's not terrible compared to many other counties," he said. "It signifies what everyone out there is doing - hanging onto their money."

County Budget Director Kristy Muir said that although the county's general fund is holding steady, several county departments and agencies that generate much of their own operating revenue are struggling.

The building inspection department has been hard hit by the downturn in the construction industry.

Wood Haven Health Care, formerly known as the county nursing home, has had to lay off employees and reduce hours because of fewer admissions.

The solid waste district and county landfill also have experienced drops in income.

Ms. Muir told commissioners it will be interesting to see where revenue projections are in the fall when commissioners begin examining requests for appropriations from the various county offices.

"Hopefully things will be on the upswing," she said.

By law, commissioners must adopt a budget or estimate of revenues for the following year by July 10.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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