PUTNAM COUNTY — Every year, the county commissioners approve the appropriation of funds for each department as part of the budget process. The goal is to provide each department with only as much funding as they need to fulfill their roles.

There always remains far too many unknowns to make the process an exact science. It is impossible to know, for example, how much snow will fall in a given year, and therefore how much salt needs to be purchased to spread on area roadways.

At the end of each year, it is not uncommon for funds to be allocated from the general fund to different departments in order to cover unanticipated costs. At the same time, a number of other departments will possess positive balances at the end of the year and will be able to return those unspent funds to the county’s general fund.

The following information details the departments that returned a total of $318,937.86 to the county’s general fund following the close of 2017:

Airport - $2,573.02; Auditor - $34,071.58; Board of Elections - $13,150.20; Clerk of Courts - $11,515.36; Common Pleas - $19,314.84; Coroner - $13,485.12; Engineer - $3,244.44; Freedom of Justice, Prosecutor - $1; Freedom of Justice, Sheriff - $2,631.64; Jail - $42,956.32; Juvenile Court - $17,992.80; Municipal Court - $10,365.69; Probate Court - $11,834.55; Real Estate Appraisal - $17,729.97; Recorder - $9,427.70; Sheriff - $66,859.84 (Sheriff & Jail combined returned $109,816.16); Veteran Services - $41,783.79; Total returned - $318,937.86.

When creating each year’s budget, Putnam County Administrator Jackson Betscher practices zero-based budgeting. This means he goes through each department’s expenditures from the previous fiscal year to best determine their needs for the coming year, instead of more-simply providing an across the board increase of two or three percent. Betscher says that he also tries to build-in funds for unanticipated expenses, so that departments do not have to return to the commissioners and request an additional allocation.