Residents pack third and final budget meeting

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County residents once again packed the county's third and final hearing on proposed budget cuts.

The county is trying to cut more than $30 million and eliminate more than 900 jobs

All of these sessions were held to get community input and try to find a way to deal with this budget mess.

In total, more than 600 people came out and give their thoughts and suggestions to fix the problem.

But commissioners say there's no easy fix.

"We have had a lot of our assumptions affirmed by the general public," said Commission president Todd Portune. "That is that public safety is a very important issue on the minds of people in the county."

That's after the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department came out in full force yet again.

Deputies were at this final meeting to convince commissioners from closing the Queensgate Jail, ending patrols in three townships and laying off more than 200 sheriff's deputies.

But also at Wednesday's public hearing was a call to save Hamilton County's Job and Family Services division from cuts and layoffs.

Residents say they understand it's a very dire situation at this point, and now many are calling for an increase in the county sale tax to fix what seems to be a huge hole.

"I totally support raising taxes because what are you going to do, layoff every county employee, everybody in juvenile court, probation, county sheriffs, the justice center? What are you going to do, lay off every county employee?" said resident Peter McGrowver.

"The county board has to show leadership, join with the state and go to federal government and make sure some of this economic stimulus comes here to save jobs here and not only industrial jobs but also these very important public service job," said another resident, Dan LaBotz.

Commissioners will have to make their final budget decisions by Dec. 22. State law requires counties to have their budgets balanced by the first of the year.