Hamilton County's budget battle

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A big drop in sales tax revenue means Hamilton County has to drop another $6 million from its budget.

All county departments are going to have to figure out where even more cuts can be made, and it needs to happen before the end of the year.

This round of cuts will be the third one for the county. Sales tax revenues are down nearly 12 percent from the same time last year.

"This economy just continues to throw everyone for a real turn," said Commissioner Todd Portune

"To have one key area of revenue off 50, 60 percent from three years ago is unheard of so its a brutal reality this recession," added Commissioner David Pepper.

Hamilton County commissioners held an emergency meeting Monday afternoon, saying county departments must now absorb even more cuts to keep the county from dipping into its general fund reserve.

"The numbers are a serious challenge, and they were a serious challenge going into '09 when 30 million was cut from the budget prior to these mid-year adjustments," said Commissioner Greg Hartmann.

That initial round of service reductions included hundreds of layoffs, and closing the Queensgate jail. This time, county officials say It's getting even more difficult to pair back what's already a bare bones budget.

"We did get today the ability from the state to expand furloughs to a whole set of employees that before we couldn't have," said Pepper. "Furloughs should help some departments and there could be positions eliminated, depending on what departments decide to do and I also think a good option for some is. It's harsh but salary decreases to get through the year."

Officials will talk more about this situation on Wednesday. They also say this lack of income has everyone even more worried about 2010.

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