MARIETTA - Budget hearings for 2013 for county departments and agencies that started Nov. 14 and are being conducted by the Washington County commissioners are about halfway done.
Hearings are planned to be completed next Monday, said Commissioner Tim Irvine.
So far, things have gone smoothly, Irvine said.
"There's not been any surprises," he said.
The county's 2013 budget process began in summer 2012, when departments and agencies were required to file a preliminary budget for 2013.
"When they come in for hearings, if things have changed-and more often than not they have-they bring us the latest information they have," said Irvine.
County commissioners also make estimates on incoming monies, he added.
"It's not only the expense side, it's the revenue side," Irvine said.
If necessary, the commissioners will bring a department or agency back in to obtain further information, said county Commissioner Cora Marshall.
After all budget hearings are completed, funding mandates receive top consideration.
"First, we must look at unfunded state mandates," so those requirements can be met, Marshall said.
Next, county commissioners "look at revenue and look at expenditures that are being requested, and we make a decision based on that information," she added.
"It's always challenging to try to sort all this out," Marshall admitted.
In 2012, the cost per month to run Washington County was more than $1 million, according to Marshall.
At the budget hearing for the county's engineering department, Washington County Engineer Bob Badger reported estimated revenues and expenditures for 2013 at $6,448,780.
"That includes an estimated $1.1 million in capital projects for federal and state that is grant money," said Badger.
"If you subtract that ($1.1 million), you get about $5.3 million in motor vehicle gas tax," he added.
The county engineering department gets a portion of license plate and gas tax money that is earmarked for highway purposes, according to Badger.
"That has to go to roads and bridges. ...It can't be put in (the county's) general funds and reallocated," he added.
Maintenance items are the first thing that must be addressed by the engineering department, Badger said.
"We have to keep what we have in as good condition as we can," he added.
Washington County Children Services requested a 2013 budget of $1.2 million, said Dave Copen, executive director.
"Even the $1.2 million may not get us through the whole fiscal year," said Alice Stewart, children services supervisor.
"Children Services has $200,000 in monthly expenses. If you times that by 12, that's more than $1.2 million," she added.
Additional monies that come to Children Service from the federal government help pay for expenses, said Stewart.
"It can take up to nine months or longer to get that reimbursement from the federal government. ...We are not reimbursed at 100 percent," she added.
All things considered, Washington County is in "good financial shape currently," said Irvine.
"I think the challenge will be in the years to come," he added.
Marshall was in agreement.
"Financially the county is doing well. Sales tax has been up and casino money has helped offset some (expenses) but we still need to look at the future," she said.
According to Marshall, the "wave of the future" for Washington County's budget will be shared services among county departments and agencies.
"We've seen this work with schools. ...This way of thinking is no different for the county," she said.