Consultant: County finances ‘stable’


Financial consultant Jeff Peters gave Montgomery County Council members an overview Tuesday of where the county is financially six months into the year. He also shared information on financing the bonds for the courthouse renovation project.

Peters reported that the county is in a stable financial condition at the moment. He said the nearly $2 million Montgomery County Treasurer Heather Laffoon has earned through investments is a tremendous help. He also pointed out that assessed valuations came in above projections and has resulted in the collection of more property taxes than estimated.

A recent supplemental distribution from the state in the amount of $755,384 for the general fund and $523,816 in Public Safety Local Income Tax has added to county coffers. Neither amount was included in the 2024 budget.

Peters said the funds can be used to help finance some of the large projects being considered by the council. He mentioned two projects, $500,000 for housing and the pending jail repair which is estimated to cost approximately $600,000.

Although Peters remained positive, there is on economic factor that could threaten future income.

“The one thing I fear is if we go into a recession,” Peters said. “If that happens, we see states slow up the funds going to counties and we would not get the amount of interest on investments that we are enjoying now.”

In regards to financing the courthouse renovation, Peters presented options on the team of the new upcoming bonds. He described the amount of savings in interest that can be saved by obtaining financing on a short term of seven years. The savings would be nearly $1.2 million by financing the project for seven years instead of 19 years.

The council opted to obtain financing for seven years. Bids will be sent out this week.

The local wheel tax and sur tax were reviewed. The tax, which was increased last year, has brought in an additional $167,000 in 2024 than in the same time period in 2023. Assuming the second half of 2024 will double the income, bringing the total estimated at $334,000 to be used by the county highway.

A discussion ensued concerning raising the user tax again this year. Council member Brett Cating made a motion to not raise the amount vehicle owners pay as part of the license plate renewal.

“With the way the economy is, I don’t think we should raise the wheel tax this year,” Cating said.

Councilman Gary Booth indicated he was for raising the wheel tax.

“Everyone wants good roads and we know that our highway department is $2.7 million short to do all the highway director wants to do,” Booth said. “I think we really need to look at (raising the wheel tax).”

Council member Joyce Grimble sided with Cating.

“When you look at what people are paying for goods and services today, I don’t believe we should raise the tax,” Grimble said.

Cating’s motion passed 4-3 with Cating, Grimble, Matt Nelson and David Hunt voting for the motion. The three nay votes were cast by Jake Bohlander, Steve Loy and Booth.

The council heard the findings from the recent compensation study presented by Wagonner, Irwin and Scheele. The council will take the information under advisement and use the report as a tool when considering future salaries to county employees.