Thursday, November 15, 2001

County, prosecutor disagree

Budget at center of Butler debate

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County administrators say Prosecutor Robin Piper's proposed budget for next year exceeds the county's limit by more than $100,000. But Mr. Piper says he's only $21,000 over.

        The difference stems from Mr. Piper's fund for his team that prosecutes criminal child-support cases.

        The county originally assigned $368,000 for the team in 2002. But by restructuring, Mr. Piper found that he could operate it on $260,000.

        The county subtracted the $108,000 difference from its budget limit for the prosecutor's office, but Mr. Piper did not.

        “It's a different way of looking at the numbers,” said Tim Williams, county finance director, after Wednesday's budget hearing with Mr. Piper. “We felt the targeted budget should be lowered.”

        The dispute over $80,000 — far less than 1 percent of the county's total budget — illustrates the county's tough financial situation.

        The county commissioners have set a 3 percent ceiling on increases in county department budgets for 2002.

        Mr. Williams said most of the departments have submitted budgets over the limit.

        The commissioners will approve the 2002 budget in mid-December.

        The prosecutor's proposed general fund budget for next year is 4.5 percent higher than this year's.

        Mr. Williams questioned Mr. Piper about a proposed $103,000 increase in his office's salaries for 2002.

        Mr. Piper attributed the increase to his plan to hire a second attorney to handle appellate cases and to his desire to raise annual salaries of young assistant prosecutors to $40,000. Some are making around $35,000, he said.

        Mr. Piper said he will try to cut his proposed $3.8 million budget to meet the county's 3 percent limit on budget increases.


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