County closely monitoring budget during COVID-19 pandemic

BATAVIA, OH (April 8, 2020) — Clermont County’s prudent approach to financing is helping county government as its top funding sources take a major hit.

Due to the economic slowdown brought on by the state’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, county government faces a significant reduction in its sales tax estimate for 2020 and a shortfall in casino revenues. On top of that, revenue from hotel lodging taxes, transportation fees, and engineer’s tax receipts have slowed. And local government funds from the state, which are dependent upon the State’s tax revenues, are expected to drop off.

The county has kept a strong fund balance and reserves due to its responsible management of the budget, said Mary Rains, Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

In addition to a solid carryover balance, the county has general fund reserves as well as $5.3 million in the county’s budget stabilization fund.

Clermont County keeps healthy reserves on hand because of its heavy dependence on sales tax revenues, said David Painter, President of the Clermont County Board of County Commissioners.

“Clermont County is very fortunate due to conservative management throughout the years,” Painter said. “Commissioners have understood that that our business is highly dependent on tax revenue to operate. Therefore adequate reserves are on-hand to allow time for an adequate evaluation of revenue and costs before making a final decision. Although these funds currently in reserve were not saved specifically for offsetting the impacts of a COVID-19 virus, these monies were saved due to a potential loss of tax revenues. This is why local governments need to conservatively budget, manage within the budget, and when possible build an adequate reserve fund to manage through unforeseen financial impact that may arise. We have currently restricted non-essential travel and we are limiting hiring of employees to only those essential positions that must be filled as we continue to evaluate the overall financial projections and time duration.”

County officials are reviewing hiring recommendations and monitoring expenses during this time and reducing expenses if and when possible. The county will update projections as information becomes available and if the Ohio Stay at Home Order is extended beyond May 1.