Hamilton Co. dept. heads says budget cuts hard to swallow
Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler says proposed budget cuts could force her to lay off staff which is an option she says she doesn't like. "To reduce the staff in any way...like I say...would be a great detriment to the court," said Winkler.
Notice of the budget cutbacks was presented in the form of a letter during a breakfast meeting of department heads Tuesday.
County Commissioner Greg Hartmann says the county has to trim its operating expenses by about $20 million next year in order to balance the budget. He says all department heads are being told to make sacrifices.
Winkler says she's been asked to trim her budget by about 17 percent or $1.8 million, which could mean layoffs and slower service. "If we are forced to lay people off there would be a reduction in the time that people would be able to access their records even with the e-filing that we have just instituted there would be an inability to process those filings as they come through in a timely manner," said Winkler.
Winkler says she's working to avoid layoffs. "Find some new ways to create revenue and really it would be from people who are using the system...whether it be criminals, defendants....that those people would be paying instead of the taxpayers of Hamilton county," she said.
Hamilton county chief deputy Sean Donovan says protecting the public remains a priority. "Capitol improvements things like that can be postponed, but the basic public safety aspect of the sheriff's office has to be funded...that be the patrol section and the corrections division," said Donovan.
With a projected $3 million budget cut Donovan says the sheriff's department may have to make some sacrifices. "Sexual predator registration and those type things that are unfunded mandates or partially funded mandates from the state. Those things could be potentially affected, but its early on in the process to be able to determine that," said Donovan.
There is a chance the county's revenue projections could change before the budget is implemented, but in the meantime department heads are gearing themselves up to make do with less.