Holmes County commissioners wrapping up for the year

By CHRISTINE L. PRATT Staff Writer Published:

In their last meeting of the calendar year, the Holmes County commissioners wrapped up some last minute business, but also got a bit of good news about the county's financial situation.

To cover outstanding expenses and satisfy last-minute obligations, the commissioners approved 42 transfers within funds, two transfers between funds and 11 supplemental appropriations.

But, as they balanced the funds within the county budget, they simultaneously learned that it is anticipated that $335,284 in unspent appropriations will be coming back to the general fund from the county's various offices and departments.

That news came from Michelle Gerber, deputy auditor, who said that of the $10.5 million budgeted, only about $10.2 million was spent.

"I think that the taxpayers of Holmes County should be very grateful," said Commissioner Ray Eyler, noting it is because of great diligence and frugality, exercised by department heads and elected officials the county general fund has seen a turnaround.

Gerber said she anticipates, including what is returned to the general fund, the county will end the year with a carryover of nearly $2.3 million.

And, while receipts from sales tax were largely in line with what was projected by Auditor Jackie McKee, Gerber said, they were up $600,000 from 2011.

Additionally, there has been an increase in funds generated by the county bed tax, likely due to an influx of oil workers staying in the area while drilling.

Final year-end totals will be available shortly after the first of the year, she said.

Also at the meeting, the commissioners agreed to renew a three-year lease agreement with John Hipp of Hipp Farms for the farming of 22 acres of land at the former children's home property and 172.4 acres at the Holmes County Home property.

According to the lease, Hipp will pay the county $22,550 per year for use of the land. That money is appropriated by the commissioners to the County Home.

Renewal of the contract was made in accordance with the prior three-year contract, which was awarded to Hipp, who bid on the option. Previously, the land was leased on an annual basis, according to the commissioners.

The meeting also brought about commissioner approval of rates for the County Home. According to the resolution, paying residents are charged $1,545 a month for semi-private and ward rooms and $1,957 a month for private rooms. Also approved were a $67 per diem rate for respite care and a $2.58 per hour rate for daycare.

Because of the coming New Year's holiday, the next regular business meeting of the Holmes County commissioners is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m.

Reporter Christine L. Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or by email at cpratt@the-daily-record.com.

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