By Wayne Gates –
The Ohio Auditor of State is giving Brown County a clean bill of financial health.
The auditor’s office releases a report on the fiscal health of Ohio’s counties and large cities each year, looking at 17 different financial indicators, including fund balances, debt ratio, revenue projections and other factors.
The indicators are then flagged as green, yellow or red, depending on the seriousness of the situation as determined by the auditor.
For 2016, Brown County got green flags across the board, which the Brown County Commissioners were very pleased to hear.
“We have held the line on spending. We knew that this jail project, come hell or high water, was coming our way. So we have been working for the past few years to stay within our means,” said commissioner Barry Woodruff.
Commissioner Tony Applegate said that the budgeting process is very difficult.
“We are not winning any popularity contests because there are a lot of tough decisions involve a lot of good people, but we have to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars,” he said.
Applegate said that other elected officials and department heads in the county should also share in the credit of the good report because of their work in maintaining responsible budgets.
Brown County actually improved from 2015, when the county got one yellow flag for having a higher percentage of revenues used for repayment of debt.
By contrast, Adams County has two red flags and two yellow.
The red flags are for expenses exceeding revenues and the yellow flags are for a declining general fund balance and for a short time of money available for average daily expenses.
Clermont County has a red flag for expenses exceeding revenues and a yellow flag for having to delay replacing capital assets due to cash flow concerns.
One a statewide level, the report from the auditor’s office states that “For 2016, Morgan County met the threshold for showing fiscal stress, based on historic trends. Three counties (Hocking, Jackson and Vinton) are showing early signs of fiscal stress and may be two to three years away from experiencing fiscal stress based on current conditions.”
The auditors office said that the financial stress of 55 of Ohio’s 88 counties got worse in 2016. Twenty counties, including Brown, showed improvement and ten counties were unchanged.