Operating efficiently in Clermont County

Since becoming County Commissioner in 2012, I have learned much about local government. Coming from the perspective of owning and managing private sector companies, I was familiar with how the recession had impacted the manner in which business had to adjust and react in order to continue to grow and prosper.

The same forces impacted local government as well requiring creative, innovative, and disciplined policies so that local government could continue to provide needed public services in an environment of reduced revenues.

Between 2008 and 2014, Clermont County government reduced employee headcount by 90 positions, a 6.9% decrease. Total payroll for that same period was reduced by over $500,000 annually. These reductions occurred at the same time as the county’s population grew by over 16,000 citizens, an increase of 3.1%.

As a point of comparison, these increases in efficiency at the county level have come at a time when our national government has increased its debt by over $10 trillion, increased the number of employees in the executive branch, and has increased the average per employee compensation to $116,828!

How has Clermont County managed to do more with less? First of all, “a rising sea lifts all boats!” Given Clermont County’s increasingly diverse business base, we saw an increase of 16.5% in sales tax collections last year. Sales taxes accounted for 49% of Clermont County’s general fund operating revenues.

As we adjust and recover from the recession and the resulting property valuations, property tax related revenues have decreased by 11.5%. These revenues now make up 17% of the county’s general funds. While property owners as a whole have seen a decrease in taxes, the increase in sales taxes has allowed the general fund to balance, benefiting all citizens.

Economic development steered, encouraged, and supported by your local government has played a role. You see it in the form of new development, business attraction, business expansions, and bringing in more events, activities, and visitors into our community all helping to generate additional sales tax.

County government is run by fiscal conservatives. Clermont County has had a balanced or surplus operating budget for each of the past four years. General fund reserves have steadily increased from 25% to 33%.  Clermont County has taken proactive steps to create a long-term capital plan, allowing us to pay cash for most capital expenses related to buildings, deputy vehicles, 911 cell towers, and economic development. This practice allows the county to avoid debt and the resulting interest costs associated with such debt.

We have also embraced technology in each department, seeking ways to deliver our services to citizens in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. This, in turn, has allowed us to deliver services with fewer employees. As employees retire, we have sought ways to maintain or improve upon services provided to the public without hiring replacement employees, thus giving the citizens of Clermont County a better rate of return on their tax dollars.

Clermont County is a wonderful place to live, work, raise a family, and retire. Our local government operates within its means. We have safe neighborhoods, good schools, and low unemployment. I’m fortunate to call Clermont County home and feel both humbled and blessed to serve here as county commissioner.