Warren County’s 2024 general fund budget continues showing growth with no debt

Warren County commissioners adopted its 2024 general fund budget that will be larger than the previous year.

In 2024, the general fund spending budget will be more than $89.9 million, about 4.5% larger than the general fund budget was for 2023. The general fund is the main operating fund for the county.

Martin Russell, deputy county administrator, said anticipated revenues for 2024 will be more than $93.6 million, which is higher than the $90.4 million anticipated for 2023. He told commissioners that the revenue actually received for 2023 is nearly $104 million as of Dec. 12, 2023, or 114% over projection. Spending is at 79% of budget, he said.

Historically, the commissioners have targeted increased budget spending at 4% but Russell noted the county is continuing to feel some wage pressure in hiring people at entry level and certified levels. In addition there are inflationary increases for energy and supplies and vehicles.

“We’re behind on vehicle purchases because you can’t find them and we’re looking everywhere,” Russell told the Dayton Daily News. “It’s the effects from the pandemic and inflation affecting the country. It’s also hard to find specialized labor. We’re experiencing what the rest of the country is experiencing.”

Russell said the county received the projected 2023 revenue by the end of October. He said the county’s sales tax have been growing and is expected to generate nearly $55 million in 2023, up from $53 million in 2022.

All funds, including the general fund, in the county’s 2024 budget will total $316 million.

Russell said the breakdown of the county’s 2024 general fund budget has $51.5 million going to public safety (57,3%),$37 million for general operating costs (41.1%) and $1.5 million for miscellaneous and social services (less than 2%). The county will not have any general fund debt service payments in 2024.

The county budget also has $47 million for its infrastructure bank, where funds were set aside to build over the past five years for future projects in addition to the county’s $12 million rainy day fund and $49.4 million in unencumbered carryover.

Russell said Warren County’s fiscal success is due in part to its leadership culture.

“We look at spending and look at things through a Warren County lens,” Russell said. “Our people and elected officials look closely at spending because they understand the importance of being fiscally conservative. We provide great services and people want to be here and invest themselves here.”

Major spending in 2024 will be for significant investments in cybersecurity to strengthen risk mitigation efforts — about 1.5% of the general fund increase, Russell said.

Other major projects planned for 2024 include the new county court building that is estimated to cost up to $11 million. Russell said the project will require the demolition of the former county jail that opened in 1995. Another large part of spending will be the county’s contribution for the upgrading of the Lindner Family Tennis Center that was key to keeping the world-class Western & Southern Open tennis tournament in Warren County.

Commissioner David Young said with the necessary investments in cybersecurity and with increased inflation nationally, the budget is still “in such good financial shape (allowing us to) go and do some of the investments in our global asset (for the tennis tournament).”

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