Fulton County enters 2020 fiscally sound and dedicated to creating jobs for its citizens, according to Administrator Vond Hall.
With a budget of $15.48 million going into the new year, the county commissioners worked closely alongside the County Budget Commission, which is responsible for estimating revenue, Hall said.
“It is annually the goal of the county commissioners to base the county spending plan on estimated revenue,” he said. “When that is carried out effectively then we remain in a balanced budget and do not need to use any of the county carryover of funds each year.”
Commissioner Jeff Rupp said past county commissioners have done a good job managing the county’s finances.
“The commissioners are always fiscally conservative. That proper money management has allowed us to carry forward with a nice reserve,” he said.
Sales tax revenues for the year are strong, which shows signs of a strong economy, Rupp said. He added that that, in turn, helps the county financially.
Hall listed the 10-month, nearly $4 million renovation of the 147-year-old Fulton County Courthouse as the county’s top achievement for 2019. Preservation work and upgrades were made to the second-floor Common Pleas Court, and improvements to the Clerk of Courts office and the Probation and Juvenile courts and their offices were completed. An aging elevator was replaced with an American Disabilities Act-compliant model.
“County commissioners continue to make the care of the courthouse a priority,” Hall said.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous, and we’re anxious for the public to see this historic building in all its glory,” Rupp added.
Hall said one downside of 2019 has been that county administrators are disappointed about not receiving some of the state and federal grants for which they applied. “We are always interested in finding ways to utilize outside funds when possible,” he added.
Hall said the commissioners have an eye on supporting the creation of jobs through the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation. He described the county as conservative and responsive going into the new year, and said the county’s strength is the attention it places on the public.
“We view our job as working to meet the needs of the public as balanced as we can,” he said.
He acknowledged that a county weakness is not being current with technology in order to communicate with the public. “We will continue to understand and attempt to utilize ever-changing technology tools,” Hall said.
Rupp said another weakness could be the Fulton County Senior Center located in Wauseon. He said the building, which dates to the 1930s, does not conform to current standards of accessibility and was not constructed with the needs of senior citizens in mind.
He especially noted the center’s kitchen, which is ill-equipped to serve the hundreds of meals it generates daily.
“(The senior center) will be one of the main things we’ll be looking at in 2020,” Rupp said. “Do we build a new building or rehab the existing building? We’ve got to make decisions about that.”
On the bright side, however, the county’s infrastructure and staffing are in good condition, he said. “We have a fantastic group of employees that work for the county,” he said. “I’m very satisfied with the county’s progress.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.