The annual County Budget Commission hearing is a crucial event that plays a significant role in the budgeting process for taxing entities in Geauga County. In this article, we will provide a detailed overview of the hearing, its goals, and the responsibilities of the Budget Commission. We will also discuss proposed changes to the distribution of funds and provide important information for participants in the budget commission hearings.
- The Budget Commission hearing aims to inform participants and provide them with important information to adequately prepare for their hearings.
- Improving dialogue between the Budget Commission members and the entities who are bringing their budgets for review is another important goal of the hearing.
- The Budget Commission is responsible for reviewing tax budgets provided by taxing entities and ensuring proper authorization and allocation of tax levies.
- The Commission also approves and distributes local government funding, library funding, and monitors the collection and spending of levy monies.
- The County Prosecutor, County Treasurer, and County Auditor make up the Budget Commission, with the Auditor serving as the Secretary.
- The Commission’s duties include meeting annually in February and August, completing their work by September 1, and reviewing non-waived budgets by July 20 (January 20 for school districts).
- The distribution of the undivided local government fund is based on either the statutory or alternate formula method.
- The statutory method lacks transparency, as the Budget Commission determines the distribution annually based on need, while the alternate formula is locally adopted and requires a majority vote.
- Proposed changes to the 1989 formula include eliminating the floor for entities not wholly located in the county and distributing funds based on population per capita.
- The Budget Commission also sets tax rates, approves amended certificates of estimated resources, and reviews annual budget submissions.
The Annual County Budget Commission Hearing
The County Budget Commission hearing serves as a platform for informing participants and providing them with the necessary information to adequately prepare for their individual budget hearings. The primary goal is to enable effective dialogue between the Budget Commission members and the entities presenting their budgets for review.
One key objective of the hearing is to set clear expectations for participants, ensuring they are aware of what to expect during the budget commission process. The Commission understands the stress and challenges that accompany these hearings and aims to reduce the burden on participants as much as possible.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Budget Commission
The Budget Commission has several crucial responsibilities. Firstly, they review tax budgets provided by taxing entities on an annual basis, unless waived by law. Geauga County does not waive tax budget presentations for any taxing authorities within the county. The Commission ensures that tax levies are properly authorized and allocated among various taxing authorities, including counties, cities, villages, townships, libraries, and fire districts.
In addition to reviewing tax budgets, the Budget Commission also approves and distributes local government funding and library funding. They play a crucial role in monitoring the collection and appropriate spending of levy monies while ensuring that entities’ carryover balances are reasonable.
Composition of the Budget Commission
The Budget Commission composition is defined by Ohio Revised Code 5705.27. It consists of the County Prosecutor, County Treasurer, and County Auditor. While representatives can be assigned to serve on behalf of the members, the Secretary of the Budget Commission is the County Auditor.
Duties and Authority of the Budget Commission
The Budget Commission has several duties and authority as defined by law. They are required to meet on the first Monday of February and August, completing their work by September 1 of each year. Non-waived budgets are due to the County Auditor by July 20 (January 20 for school districts).
The Commission distributes the undivided local government fund, as well as the library fund, based on either the statutory or alternate formula method. The statutory formula, defined in Ohio Revised Code 5747.51 and 5747.52, lacks transparency and allows the Budget Commission to determine the distribution based on need annually.
Alternatively, the alternate formula, defined in Ohio Revised Code 5747.53, is locally adopted and requires a majority vote of interested parties. The Budget Commission has proposed changes to the 1989 formula for tax year 2022, aiming to revamp and reconsider the distribution of funds based on population and needs.
Proposed Changes to the Distribution of Funds
The proposed changes to the 1989 formula aim to eliminate the floor for entities not wholly located in the county. Specifically, Hunting Valley, with a population of just over 100 people in Geauga County, would no longer receive the current floor amount of $15,000. Instead, they would receive a distribution of just one dollar per capita based on the population within the county’s boundaries.
Additionally, park districts will be removed from the equation, and the Budget Commission recommends that townships, municipalities, and park districts explore additional revenue sources, such as levies, to fund their needs. These changes aim to ensure fair distribution and align with evolving local government dynamics.
Tax Rates and Budget Submission
The Budget Commission is responsible for setting tax rates based on local government areas, levies, and budget submissions. They review both inside and outside the 10-mill limitation, test the reasonableness of budget submissions, and provide an independent check and balance for taxpayers.
They also approve and issue amended certificates of estimated resources for all entities. The review and approval process for the annual budget submission is a crucial aspect of the Budget Commission’s duties, and a tax budget can only be waived if authorized by Ohio Revised Code 5705.281.
Checks and Balances and Legal Recourse
The Budget Commission operates within the framework of checks and balances. Two fundamental laws govern their oversight: Ohio Revised Code 5705.341 and 5705.37. These laws provide individuals and eligible parties the option to raise issues and potentially file claims against the Budget Commission’s actions. The Board of Tax Appeals is the deciding body in such instances.
Pre-Hearing Tests and Documentation
Prior to attending the budget hearing, participants receive several documents and undergo tests conducted by the Auditor’s office. These tests verify accuracy and completeness. Participants receive Schedule A, which represents the allocation of inside millage, and Schedule B, which identifies revenue from outside the 10-mill limitation levies. Accuracy and completeness in these schedules are crucial for the Budget Commission’s distribution and assessment processes.
The annual County Budget Commission hearing plays a critical role in the budgeting process for Geauga County’s taxing entities. Through effective dialogue and information sharing, the Commission ensures fair distribution, transparency, and accountability in the allocation and spending of funds. The proposed changes to the distribution formula aim to adapt to evolving local government dynamics and establish a more equitable system. Participants in the budget hearings can expect thorough review and analysis of their submissions to ensure accuracy, completeness, and reasonableness. By fulfilling their duties and providing a platform for discussion, the Budget Commission ensures proper oversight and accountability in Geauga County’s budgeting process.