Richland County commissioners expect paper prices to rise sharply

Richland County departments will have to refrain from making copies and printing electronic documents unless they are forced to do so due to an expected increase in the cost of copy paper.

Central Services Director Rachael Troyer told the board on Tuesday that suppliers are warning sellers that prices will rise significantly – possibly by 7% – from September 1, in part due to the war in Ukraine.

Troyer explained that the problem started in 2009 or 2010 when US paper mills closed because they weren’t making money.

“Now it’s coming back to haunt us because a lot of the paper that comes into the United States comes from Ukraine, and Ukraine probably isn’t processing the paper right now,” she said.

Troyer told the council that the current supplier, Friends Office of Findlay, had raised the price of standard 8.5 x 12-inch paper, which is the bulk of what the county buys, by 1.4 per cent. This price is only good until August.

Troyer said Ritter Office Supply in Mansfield is experiencing similar issues and is considering switching suppliers.

Commissioner Cliff Mears said the issue of paper costs was close to his heart because he had retired from the publishing and printing industry.

“I know a lot of the papers we got were from Finland and Eastern and Western Europe when I was in the business,” Mears said. “Capacity has been an issue for many years, but with the current labor shortage and cost of freight, the flow of paperwork from Europe is increasing exponentially.”

Troyer pointed out that many envelopes sent out now are brown because it costs extra to launder the white paper. She also expects additional costs for larger, legal-sized paper and colored paper, which are used by the courts.

“They don’t make colored paper, which means what’s in the warehouses is all we have and they’re going to have to rethink what they’re doing,” Troyer said.

She called the situation a “perfect storm” because not only will it affect copy paper, but it will also affect products such as toilet paper and paper towels.

“Anything that contains paper, we’re going to see a huge increase,” Troyer said. “And then the fuel.”

The commissioners approved the Friends paper for the month of August and agreed to review prices again at the end of the month.

The distribution of sales tax will remain unchanged

Commissioners also decided on Tuesday to keep the amount of county sales tax revenue it allocates to local cities, towns and townships at the same level in 2023 as it is this year. Commissioners first approved the revenue-sharing plan in 1988 after enacting a one-quarter percent increase in local optional sales tax.

At that time, the commissioners established $1,514 per mile of local road as the basis for what the 18 townships and nine municipal governments would receive for repairing, maintaining, and rebuilding roads and streets. Any unused “surplus” for the county budget is allocated on a pro-rata basis, although the surplus allocation has been reduced several times since the 2009 recession.

Vero pointed out that the excess allocation was reduced by 1% in 2019 and 2020 and remained unchanged in 2021 and this year. The excess allocation in 2021 was $564,646.

County Auditor Pat Dropsey has requested a ruling as he prepares to certify estimated revenues for all subdivisions for 2022.

In other cases, commissioners agreed to transfer $50,000 in community development block grant funds from a disability access improvement project at the Renaissance Theater to a storm sewer improvement project. in Plymouth which receives funding from CDBG. They also approved a $3,867 change order for a storm drainage and paving project at Dayspring, the Richland County assisted living facility, as additional work needed to be done to remove and replace the old paving.