Coronavirus: Clark County departments cut $1.8M from their budgets

Clark County officials have cut more than $1.8 million from their budgets — in order to assist the Board of Clark County Commissioners with anticipated sales tax revenue losses due to COVID-19, or the coronavirus pandemic.

The commission announced it would be cutting $4.7 million from its general fund budget in mid-April.

A statement from the commission said savings would be realized through things like furloughing more than 50 employees for two weeks, implementing an immediate hiring freeze, placing a freeze on all capital improvement projects, providing no training, travel or educational reimbursements and asking officials to review budgets to determine where other cuts could occur.

The commission approached all county officials and asked them to voluntarily cut or reduce their expenses by at least 10% of their budgets, Commission President Melanie Flax Wilt said.

MORE: Coronavirus: Clark County Commission cuts $4.7M from budget, furlough 56 employees

“This is obviously a crazy time and we have all had to make sacrifices,” Flax Wilt said. “Every dollar we can’t find in budget cuts are dollars that we can’t invest in law enforcement, or utilities, or maintain social services.”

Flax Wilt said the county has predicted a 20% to 25% reduction in revenue over the course of the rest of 2020.

“A budget is always an estimate, but we also have to anticipate those revenues and expenses as we oversee the budget,” Flax Wilt said. “A 20% to 25% reduction in revenue, that’s $9.4 million in general funds.”

Reduction in expenses includes a 10% budget cut to the county: auditor’s office, recorder’s office, Probate Court, Clerk of Courts, Sheriff’s Office, coroner’s office and the engineer’s office. The prosecutor’s office agreed to an 8.5% cut. The treasurer’s offices reduced their expenses by 5%.

“We all know our budgets are important. But it’s our duty to make sure we are using taxpayer funds in financially responsible ways,” Flax Wilt said.

The Domestic and Juvenile Court agreed to a 3% cut and Common Pleas Court settled on cutting 2% from its budget.

Administrative and Presiding Judge Thomas Capper said the Domestic, Juvenile and Common Pleas Court voluntarily cut less than the 5% asked of them because the courts return money to the county’s general fund throughout “the course of each fiscal year.”

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Capper said one example of these returns includes a federal IV-D contact, which will return $112,514 into the county’s general fund in 2020. Other examples include reimbursement from the State of Ohio’s Public Defender’s Office for attorney’s fees, transcript reimbursements and witness fees in criminal cases involving indigent defendants.

“The law in Ohio is very clear that a court is not to be considered as a revenue source for county government, however, in the context of budget funding, the amount of funds returned each year to the county general fund cannot be ignored,” Capper said. “It is important to the court that the residents of this community understand that the court and its employees recognize their obligation to act in a frugal manner and utilize public funds wisely. We will always continue to do so.”

In addition to asking county offices to cut their budgets, the commission will also be pulling about $1 million from their “rainy day funds.” The county has roughly $6.3 million in the fund.

“I’m sure people will say, ‘why not tap that first.’ We felt we needed to tighten up our budget first before we dipped into that,” Flax Wilt said. “We have been able to get $4 million in reductions across the board. If we bled that money out of the fund, what would we have done then?”

Tenative Clark County department budget cuts:

Auditor: $93,500

Data Processing: $27,200

Treasurer: $34,627

Recorder: $10,989

Prosecutor: $185,586

Public Defender: $47,408

Common Pleas Court: $25,000

Domestic Court: $25,000

Probate Court: $40,500

Juvenile Court: $132,298

Municipal Court: $20,499

Clerk of Courts: $77,735

Sheriff’s Office: $991,119

Coroner: $47,315

Veteran’s: $27,815

Engineer: $22,000

Other: $4,950

Total: $1,813,541

Source: Clark County Board of Commissioners

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