County leaders meet over budget cuts - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

County leaders meet over budget cuts

Joe Deters and Simon Leis Joe Deters and Simon Leis

By Dan Wells - bio | email
Posted by Trina Edwards - email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - County commissioner Todd Portune met with Sheriff Simon Leis and Prosecutor Joe Deters to figure out ways their two offices can cut even more from their budgets.

Criminal justice makes up to 70 percent of the general fund budget in the county. So with even more cuts on the table, county department heads say things are going to be dramatically different.

"We can't have any operation in county government look at board of county commissioners and say board you have to fund us. There is no money," said Portune. "In 2007 we budgeted for revenues for $271 million for the general fund. Next year we're budgeting at a level of $209 million, so that is a $62 million difference."

"You're asking us what type of crimes we don't prosecute anymore," said Deters.

Deters and Leis say more cuts will compromise public safety.

"I'm talking in the neighborhood of 65 to 70 people are going to be laid off," said Leis. "The funding just isn't there. That is all I can tell you."

"The numbers we're looking at right now we're going to have to get rid of 20 prosecutors and in municipal court, our prosecutors cover two and three courtrooms by themselves," added Deters.

Hamilton County judges have already sent a letter to commissioners flat-out refusing to make cuts in the court system. Deters says that may be his next step too.

"Our only other option is that we get an order from the court that orders commissioner to fund it which is an option we prefer not doing," he said.

Meanwhile, the sheriff says he believes it maybe time to reinvent the way the county runs as a whole.

"The only solution to the problem is you raise sale tax or you talk about metro government where you start consolidating services to minimize the cost of government to the public," said Leis.

Officially, the county has to come up with $11 million in cuts by December.

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