Butler County Developmental Disabilities board rolling back taxes again: What that means for you

Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities GREG LYNCH / STAFF
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Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities GREG LYNCH / STAFF

It will roll back $3.6M of its tax collections for second year in a row amid robust reserves.

Governments reducing taxes isn’t often seen but the Butler County Developmental Disabilities Board plans to rollback $3.6 million in taxes because they have stockpiled enough cash in reserves to sustain operations.

For the second year in a row the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities will roll back $3.6 million of its tax collections in 2022.

With cash reserves at 92% of its annual budget, the DD board has agreed to make the tax cut and give taxpayers on average $17.50 back on $100,000 of valuation. The board is planning to spend about $30.6 million next year and will garner around $21.6 million in revenues. The board will begin the year with around $37 million in cash, hence the rollback. Last year cash reserves were at $144%.

Superintendent Lisa Guliano told the Journal-News they received about $2 million in federal stimulus money which allowed them to continue the rollback.

“Our cash carryover balance is just high enough that we can still sustain and even grow with the services we’ve been providing this year as we’ve come out of the pandemic,” Guliano said. “More demand, more local funding to help folks, we’ve been enrolling people in Medicaid waivers this year to keep our waiting lists low, and plan to end the year with enough of a balance that we can give some of that money back to the taxpayers.”

The DD Board has made great budgetary strides in recent years cutting staff and consolidating locations. They haven’t asked voters for additional money since 2004.

Guliano said the board will revisit the rollback again next year. The situation could be different because she expects the federal stimulus money to end this year but they won’t “have a true full year of normal expenses” until they get through next year.

“Our position going into next year, if the cash reserves are still staying high we may go forward with another rollback in 2023,” Guliano said. “But we don’t have reality until we get through a full year of typical expenditures.”

ExploreButler County board lowering taxes by $3.6M: How they did it

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds approached the DD Board about their robust reserves and has also asked the Lane and MidPointe library systems to consider rolling back some of their tax collections. According to the 2022 tax budget, Lane estimated an $18.1 million year-end cash balance, which is 211% of its proposed $8.8 million expense budget.

“Some of my concern is other groups have continued to stockpile a lot of cash that I’d like to see follow suit and be a little more conservative,” Reynolds told the county commissioners during his budget hearing last week.

Lane Libraries Director Joe Greenwood said his board recently transferred $12 million out of reserves to the capital projects fund because they have expansion plans. They have branches in Fairfield, Hamilton and Oxford

“When we prepare to do a new project we save through the years so we don’t have to do a bond issue and we don’t have to go in debt,” Greenwood told the Journal-News. “Obviously some of those projects got delayed because of COVID and we weren’t sure what the economic outlook would look like, but we have moved forward, we are working with Fairfield Twp. on putting a new branch there so that’s why we’ve shifted our money to capital projects.”

Fiscal Officer Rob Carringer said the highest balance in the general operating fund has only reached about $15 million because the auditor’s office factored in donations, which have “parameters” and can’t be used for operating.

MidPointe has a $10.8 million bank balance which is 121% of their tax budget. MidPointe Executive Director Travis Bautz said they are planning to build a Liberty Twp. branch and also moved money from reserves to capital. He does not have an estimate for the project but said they now have $10 million in capital.

“We’re buying property in Liberty and hoping to close on that in December,” Bautz said. “We want to pay cash for construction and not go into debt for it. So they advised since we had a plan to just put it in the capital improvement fund and not the general fund. So we made the clerical change and they were happy.”

Reynolds told the Journal-News previously the Butler County Budget Commission, comprised of himself, Treasurer Nancy Nix and Prosecutor Mike Gmoser, examines levies across the board every year and if entities themselves don’t take action the budget commission can.

“There’s no reason to carry a year-and-a-half worth of cash if there is not a risk of the levy not continuing,” Reynolds said. “Some of these levies and the DD situation, those are continuous levies.”

Reynolds said the fiscally responsible rule of thumb is to have a cash balance between 50% and 60%.

The only other time officials can remember county taxing bodies rolling back their millage was in 2008 when the county commissioners reduced the Elderly Services levy from 2-mills to 1.3-mills.

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