The Board of Clark County Commissioners is cutting $4.7 million from its general fund budget to deal with anticipated sales tax revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a statement from the board said.
The commissioners will also furlough more than 50 employees for two weeks.
The commissioners approved a $195.3 million budget for 2020 — including a $49.4 million general fund — on Jan. 23.
At the time, the county had planned for an 8.9% increase in sales tax revenue, or money generated from business sales in the county, in 2020, “due to retail growth and changes to online sales tax collection.”
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“This is a difficult time for so many in our community, it’s no different in local government. We’re making proactive and practical decisions to reduce the long-term impact this could have on our team members and the residents they serve,” Clark County Commission President Melanie Flax Wilt said. “Other county leaders have expressed a willingness to work with us to find creative ways to adapt and be resourceful, so we can provide essential services while being responsible stewards of tax dollars.”
Savings will be realized through the following cuts, the statement said:
• Immediate hiring freeze
• No training, travel or education reimbursement (unless already commenced)
• Essential purchases only.
• Review budgets to determine where possible 20-25% cuts could occur
• Document all COVID-19 expenditures and submit for reimbursement
• Freeze all Captial Improvement Projects or equipment purchases (unless already commenced)
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The commission will also furlough 56 employees in their general department for 80 hours, which will be spread out over the year, Clark County spokesperson Michael Cooper said.
“This is equivalent to the 10 paid holidays remaining in 2020,” Cooper said. “The furloughs will save the county about $370,000.”
Outside of the general department, Flax Wilt said each elected official will make the determination about whether or not to furlough employees in their office.
Cuts in “essential purchases only,” refers to only things absolutely necessary for operations in the office, Cooper said.
Capital projects that will be placed on hold as a result of the cuts will include replacing the elevator at the Public Safety Building, Clark County Jail improvements and replacing blacktop at the Clark County Dog Shelter, Cooper said. Funding for all the projects was secured through the passage of the 2020 budget.
Capital projects that remain on track include the A.B. Graham building renovations and Springview Government Center renovations and the 9-1-1 dispatch center construction, Cooper said.
Renovations on the A.B. Graham building are slated to be completed this fall.
The A.B Graham building, which is named after the founder of 4-H, is home to four county offices — the treasurer, the auditor, the recorder, the tax maps departments, as well as the Clark County Common Pleas Court Domestic Relations Court.
The county offices and their 75 employees were temporarily relocated to the Bushnell Building in September 2019 and are slated to remain there until the project is completed.
If the coronavirus pandemic continues, the county might have to dip into their “emergency fund,” which currently sits at $6.3 million, according to the statement.
“The emergency funds will certainly come into play as the situation becomes more dire, but we can’t deplete our reserves before being prudent with cuts,” Flax Wilt said.
All Clark County buildings will remain closed to the public through May 1, per Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order, the statement said. Visit clarkcountyohio.gov for more information on which departments are conducting services through phone or email.