Thursday, May 1, 2003

Officials: Yes, we're planning for cuts



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Butler County officeholders struck back at the county commissioners after being publicly criticized for failing to submit contingency plans for possible budget cuts.

The officeholders said the letter sent in February by County Administrator Derek Conklin didn't ask for a response.

Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper said that his office contacted the commissioners' office after receiving the February letter.

"We were told to do nothing, just to be thinking about what budget cuts you might make if you have to," he said.

County Auditor Kay Rogers said Wednesday that she "really resented" the commissioners' accusing officeholders of not taking the county's budget crunch seriously.

"The letter never once said we were supposed to send a written response," she said. "I called Derek Conklin and told him what we were going to do to cut the budget. This office took the letter seriously."

Conklin apologized for his letter's lack of clarity.

"My letter was not as clear as it should have been," he said. "I apologize to the officeholders for that."

On Monday, the commissioners scolded officeholders and department heads after being told that County Recorder Dan Crank was the only one who submitted a budget contingency plan. The commissioners decided to cut the general fund budget by 1 percent in anticipation of possible state funding cutbacks.

Commissioner Courtney Combs, who said he did not read Conklin's letter before it was sent out, also apologized to officeholders.

"The letter was not specific and it was not done the way it should have been done on our part," he said.

Combs said that some good has come from the controversy.

"At least it got us talking and everyone knows the budget situation is serious," Combs said.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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