Emotions erupt as commissioners talk 2010 budget - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Emotions erupt as commissioners talk 2010 budget

By Corey McConnell - bio | email
Posted by Trina Edwards - email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Emotions erupted Tuesday morning in Hamilton County as commissioners discussed held a budget hearing for 2010 with the county coroner and sheriff.

Both the coroner and sheriff have been forced to make cuts in 2009, and neither were happy about commissioners asking them to make more cuts in 2010.

The cuts "would affect everything," said Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis. "There's no way we can perform our responsibilities."

Commissioners have budgeted $56.5 million for the sheriff's office in 2010, about $5.5 million less than the $62 million budget in 2009, and over $23 million less than the sheriff's office budget in 2007.

Leis said he would have to eliminate 309 positions in his department if the cuts happen.

Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Odell Owens also expressed frustration with the budget, especially when commissioner David Pepper questioned the travel budget for the coroner's office. Pepper also wondered why the crime lab was closed on Mondays as part of furloughs for 2009. In order to trim the 2009 budget, the crime lab is closing two days a month for the rest of the year. Pepper said the office shouldn't be closed on Mondays because then it's closed three days in a row with weekends. Pepper also wondered why the staff couldn't take staggered furlough days, instead of everyone taking the same days.

Dr. Owens defending himself, saying he knows what's best for his office, and it was best for the lab to be closed on Mondays.

"This is my office. I'm elected to do this job." said Owens. "If you think you know what's best, get a medical degree and run for coroner."

The coroner's office is facing a 17 percent cut for 2010.

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