By Wayne Allen
On Monday, Ohio Auditor of State David Yost officially released Scioto County from Fiscal Emergency status with his office.
Yost along with other state and local officials were in attendance at the Monday meeting of the Scioto County Financial Planing and Supervision Commission, where the release was officially announced.
On Aug. 19, 2009, Scioto County was declared in a state of fiscal emergency by the Auditor of State. As a result of the declaration, a Financial Planning and Supervision Commission was established.
Throughout the process of being under fiscal emergency the commission met and approved various measures.
In response to being released Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners said, “to paraphrase former president Ford. our county’s long nightmare of fiscal emergency is over. We can and must learn from the mistakes of the past and we have.”
Crabtree said Scioto County has learned some valuable lessons from being in fiscal emergency status.
Crabtree and Commissioners Skip Riffe and Doug Coleman expressed his gratitude for those that helped the county along the way.
“It took a lot of energy and focus to get out of fiscal emergency. A lot of difficult decisions had to me made, decisions that did not always make people happy and decisions that were not the most politically correct,” Crabtree said. “We made decisions not for what would be most pleasing or most likely to get us reelected. It was decisions that was best for the county. We are determined to continue to make the best decisions and choices.”
Yost called it a good day for Scioto County, “today is the culmination of five years of hard work,” Yost said. “Not without sacrifice, leadership dug in its heels to bring a brighter financial future to Scioto County.”
Since being declared in fiscal emergency, Scioto County decreased its expenditures by $1.62 million annually through several measures. The county closed the juvenile detention center in 2009 after the fiscal emergency declaration. During 2010 and 2011, the county commissioners closely monitored hiring, and only filled essential positions or filled positions with employees paid at a lower rate. The county also instituted furlough and cost savings days. Each department was permitted to develop their own cost savings plans, which included both furloughs and reductions in staff.
To boost revenues, the county increased contracts to house prisoners from other jurisdictions, bringing in an additional $290,000 each year on average. The Southern Ohio Port Authority sold land, which the county had a lien against, to add $414,000 in revenue.
Yost called Scioto County a success story for Ohio.
“I want to commend all of those who had all of the difficult decisions to make and to day good job, well done,” Yost said.
According to information from Yost’s office, the Auditor of State’s office conducted a performance audit of Scioto County in 2010 and provided the county with more than $1.3 million in potential savings. The county implemented several recommendations from the performance audit, including changing its health benefits structure and preparing and regularly updating five-year financial forecasts.
Before being released officials from the state auditor’s office showed the county has
Adopted and implemented an effective financial accounting and reporting system, Corrected or eliminated all of the fiscal emergency conditions and no new conditions have occurred, and it appears that, based on its five-year forecast, Scioto County will remain out of fiscal emergency during the forecast period. Met the major objectives of the financial recovery plan; and Prepared a five-year forecast in accordance with standards issued by the Auditor of State, and the opinion expressed by the Auditor of State is nonadverse.
Yost said the list of local municipalities in a fiscal status about about 30, with Scioto County being the only county in Ohio to be given this status.
As a part of the termination process a termination analysis was completed by the auditor of states office and can be read at www.ohioauditor.gov.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT