by Andy Brownfield
Proposed 'austere' budget would cut $14.4M from 2012 levels
A vote on the 2013 Hamilton County budget is being delayed
a week at the request of the sole Democrat on the Board of County
Commissioner Todd Portune asked Board President Greg
Hartmann at a Monday staff meeting to push back the vote a week to
address funding to juvenile courts and the county’s plan for future
Hartmann, who earlier denied Portune’s request to issue
securities to raise millions to balance the budget, agreed. He said it
was important that all three commissioners agree on the budget.
Portune told reporters he wanted to see more funding for
juvenile courts. The proposed budget would cut about $3 million from the
juvenile court’s 2012 appropriation.
He said he also wants to see specific plans on how and
where the county will invest in economic development. He and Hartmann
disagree about whether that kind of planning belongs in a budget.
Hartmann had the proposal developed after commissioners rejected three plans from County Administrator Christian Sigman, two of which would have raised taxes. The $192 million budget under consideration cuts about $14 million from the 2012 appropriation levels without raising taxes.
The proposed budget makes a number of what Hartman calls “modest cuts” in almost every county department.
All three commissioners have stated that public safety
funding is a priority. The Sheriff’s Department would see a small
reduction of $27,033, bringing its budget to almost $57.5 million.
However, the department would also face an additional $4.3
million in expenses next year, giving incoming Sheriff Jim Neil an
effectively reduced budget.
The Emergency Management Agency would get a nearly 40 percent increase in the proposed budget, up to $400,000.
The Board of Elections would see its budget slashed 36.2
percent to $6.9 million. However, its expenses would also be lower in
2013 because there is no presidential election as there was in 2012.
The proposed budget would bring the Department of Job and
Family Services’ appropriation to $832,900 — a reduction of $10,360.
However, that funding level is dictated by the State of Ohio and not the
The Hamilton County Prosecutor would also see a small
increase of $37,597 intended to hold level its funding from 2012, as the
department went over-budget. The prosecutor has the ability to sue the
county over its budget appropriation, so the department typically
maintains level funding.
by Andy Brownfield
Posted In: 2012 Election
, County Commission
, Financial Crisis
, Mitt Romney
at 03:53 PM | Permalink
"Austerity budget" rejects tax increases
The Republican head of Hamilton County’s governing board
outlined his own alternative for a 2013 budget on Monday, proposing an
austere path forward after rejecting other budgets that would raise some
Board of County Commissioners President Greg Hartmann said
his proposed budget would reduce the size of county government by 30
percent, compared to five years ago. He said he wants the board to
approve a budget before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“It is a budget of austerity and investment in growth,” Hartmann said.
He added, “It is a structurally-balanced budget,” that doesn’t use one-time sources of cash to make up for shortfalls.
Hartmann’s proposed budget would cut the Sheriff’s Department by about $57,000 or
0.01 percent from 2012 levels; reduce the coroner’s appropriation by 3
percent or $99,000; cut economic development by 5 percent; cut 5
percent from adult criminal courts; and reduce subsidies to the
Communications Center and Sheriff’s Department.
Hartmann stressed that it is important to fund public
safety as fully as allowable in these tough economic times, as economic
development is not possible without it.
Hartmann’s budget comes after commissioners rejected three proposals from County Administrator Christian Sigman.
Sigman proposed $18.7 million in cuts, which Hartmann’s budget maintained in addition to his own reductions.
Two of Sigman’s proposals involved increasing the sales tax to balance the budget.
Fellow Republican Commissioner Chris Monzel said he
supports Hartmann’s efforts at austerity, but is working on his own
budget proposal as well.
“An austerity budget is the way we’re going to go, and it’s going to be hard,” he said.
The board’s sole Democrat, Todd Portune, said he too is
working on his own proposal that he had hoped to have prepared for the
Nov. 5 meeting, but was still making tweaks and hoped to present it by
the following week.
He hinted that the results of Election Day might impact how he crafts his budget proposal.
“Tomorrow’s results may have an impact as well on the
budget that I present as it relates as well to those who are running for
county seats,” Portune said. “We have in some cases two very different
visions in terms of solutions.”
Both he and Hartmann are up for re-election. Portune is
running against Libertarian Bob Frey. Neither candidate has a major
Hartmann, who has actively campaigned for Republican
presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had a joke in response to Portune’s
waiting for the election results.
“I thought you were predicting Romney’s win would make the
economy go on the right track,” Hartmann cracked. “I was thinking
that’s what you were going to go with.”
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: News
at 11:18 AM | Permalink
Lack of information, understanding of industry spurs halt
Ohio environmentalists and conservationists won a small victory in the fracking industry today when Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District decided to halt all water sales from Ohio's largest contained watershed to drillers in the oil and gas industry. Environmental groups have expressed concern that the watershed's water supply could be sold for use in fracking, a fairly new drilling technique in which thousands of gallons of chemical-laden water are shot into the earth in order to fracture shale and free natural oil and gas. Critics of the process say more research is needed on the technique to fully understand fracking's long- and short-term environmental and economic effects. (Read CityBeat's June 6 cover story, "Boom, Bust or Both?" about Ohio's fracking industry, here.)The decision to postpone the sales will be held until data is received in a water-availability study that's currently underway. Pending analysis of the study's results, MWCD plans to update its water supply policy to help deal with interested clients in the future.
believe strongly that it is in the best interest of the public we serve
and the conservancy district to not entertain any water supply requests
until this study has been completed and the MWCD has had an opportunity
to update its water supply policy for review, public discussion and
consideration of the MWCD Board of Directors,”said John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary in a press release. The MWCD will honor its preexisting agreement to provide Gulfport Energy Co. with 11 million gallons of water from Clendening Lake in Harrison County.
by Hannah McCartney
at 10:11 AM | Permalink
Remaining five of 56 exotic animals released by suicidal owner go "home"
Fifty-six. That's how many exotic animals Terry Thompson of Zanesville, Ohio set free last October from his home, just before he committed suicide. Today, only five of the animals from Terry's menagerie survive: a spotted leopard, a black leopard, a brown bear and two Celebes macaques (primates). Today, those five will return to the care of Marian Thompson, Terry's widow, to the same farm where 48 of the creatures were massacred by zealous Muskingum County deputy sheriffs in an attempt to protect public safety. They'll be transferred from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium back into what was once their "home." The state ruled on Monday to lift the state-issued quarantine order that mandated the survivors be housed at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after the October tragedy, based on the suspicion that the animals could house infectious diseases and were residing in unsanitary conditions. Those slaughtered included rare Bengal tigers, mountain lions and wolves. Photo: The Associated Press A vet has since cleared the remaining five animals for any infectious diseases. The Thompsons reportedly kept the dozens of exotic animals as "pets." At the time of his death, officials found Terry owed nearly $70,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS and Muskingum County and other legal maladies, including animal abuse charges and prison time. Since October, Marian has allegedly made improvements to the living conditions, including cleaning the cages and adding a perimeter fence around the enclosures. There's no language in Ohio law that allows state officials to check on the welfare of the animals or monitor living conditions. In fact, the Thompson's ownership of the dozens of exotic animals was, and still is, completely legal — a gaping legislative hole that, since October, has caused uproar among concerned neighbors and animal welfare activists from across the country. The Ohio state Senate recently passed a bill that would ban the private ownership of lions, tigers, bears, monkeys and other exotic animals, but would allow current owners to obtain a permit documenting legal ownership, pending strict considerations, by 2014. The bill is now in the House pending review.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The state representative Alicia Reece has introduced a bill that would reduce
the number of reasons for making voters cast provisional ballots and
also clarifies that election officials will be held responsible for
errors instead of blaming voters.