Commissioners pass county budgetWritten by Toledo Free Press Staff Writers | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Board of Lucas County Commissioners on Dec. 29 passed a 2009 budget on a 2-1 vote.
The Board acted on a 2009 general fund budget with total expenditures of approximately $141.8 million, with across the board reductions in each operating department and a 5.6% total reduction over the final 2008 budget. This is the second year in a row in which to overall budget was significantly reduced when compared to the prior year.
The Board is strongly committed to downsizing county government, reducing its own budget this year by over 17% and reducing its own staff by almost 27% over the last five years.
“Like state and local governments across the nation, Lucas County is facing significant revenue shortfalls,” said Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak. “As our local families and business cut back to make ends meet, we’ve had to take steps to reduce the size of county government and protect those services that our residents depend on first.”
The 2009 budget, as submitted by the county administration, assumes more than $9 million in revenue reductions over 2008. The largest decrease in revenue is in intergovernmental transfers, including a loss of approximately $3 in criminal justice revenue due to changes by the City of Toledo.
In addition, declines in the housing and construction industry and a steep drop in interest rates at the national level contributed to the overall revenue shortfall. Sales tax revenue, the largest revenue source for the county, remained essentially flat from 2007-2008.
As in past years, Lucas County will invest significant dollars in criminal justice and public safety. Lucas County is projected to spend over 70% of its 2009 operating budget on the courts and public safety.
In addition, under this proposed budget, the Commissioners anticipate that both non-bargaining and bargaining unit employees will see no raise during 2009. Earlier this month, Commissioners took action to layoff 20 county employees and abolish two other vacant positions.
“Like so many Lucas County families, our workers have stepped up to make sacrifices in this proposed budget,” said Commissioner Pete Gerken. “We’re thankful for their service and will do everything we can to avert further layoffs during this trying time.”
Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop has released the following statement:
“This morning I will vote No on the $140 million, taxpayer-funded 2009 budget presented to me last week. My decision is based on proposals in this budget to potentially eliminate some road patrols by the Sheriff’s department and the exclusion of a new class of Sheriff’s deputies. Also, I object to allocating $1,000,000 to the under performing and mismanaged LCIC, $450,000 for new windows on a county building, arbitrary pay raises to select employees when we have laid off 20 employees, and the closing of the exhibit halls of the Lucas County Rec Center which would end, amongst other things, Children’s Wonderland.”