Thursday, November 30, 2000

Hamilton Co. budget has some cushion

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County government will grow by $100 million next year if commissioners approve a budget put forth Wednesday by County Administrator David Krings.

        But much of that money is out of the county's control, paying for items such as Medicaid, welfare and other entitlements.

        The real control county commissioners have over spending comes in the General Fund portion of the budget, which is proposed to be $258.7 million. That's up from $240.5 million this year.

        If approved, the General Fund would pay for about 22 new positions.

        The General Fund pays for all of the salaries and expenses for the various county deparments. Requests this year came in $23 million more than the county could spend, forcing many departments to cut corners.

        Also included in the budget is a grant to the Regional Cultural Alliance for $600,000 next year. Commissioners told Mr. Krings to negotiate the grant contract, but have not yet officially approved it.

        That vote is expected to come in the next two weeks.

        After all the bills are paid, there would be $1.8 million in reserves that commissioners could use to spend on groups or projects. Mr. Krings has written a memo, obtained by The Cincinnati Enquirer, outlining four groups that will make a pitch in coming weeks:

        • Cincinnati 2012. The group trying to bring the Olympics to Cincinnati says it needs $500,000 over the next two years to help pay for making its bid to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

        • YWCA of Greater Cincinnati wants $34,000 to add a position to counsel men convicted of domestic violence.

        • First Step Home, a 32-bed residential treatment facility for alcohol and drug dependent women and their children, wants an undisclosed amount of money.

        • BM Productions wants $8,000 toward sponsorship of a summer camp.

        “I'm not encouraging (county commissioners) to spend all of that $1.8 million,” Mr. Krings said. “But that's how much they can spend before getting out of balance.”

        There are more people working at the county than ever. There have been 70 new positions in the budget, some of which were created this year. That's a trend Commissioner John Dowlin would like to see curbed.

        “It's troubling to me that the number of employees continues to grow,” he said. “I want to look closely at that.”


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