The commissioners have asked all offices, departments and independent boards that rely on the general fund to cut 7.4% over two years due to a projected deep drop in revenues from the coronavirus pandemic.
As a whole, the general fund expenses presented for the commissioners' consideration are down about $12.3 million, or about 11.2%, between the adopted 2020 budget and spending requests for next year. The commissioners projected a $20 million general fund revenue tumble early in the pandemic, but through the first nine months of the year, actual revenue collections from all sources are down 7.6%, or $5.1 million.
The commissioners won’t make final decisions on the budget until all the hearings are complete and they can crunch the numbers, but Commissioner Don Dixon told the judge the detention pod is probably safe.
“I think all of us are in favor of leaving the juvenile pod open but with the caveat that revenues have been stronger than what we thought, but like you said judge we don’t know where it’s going,” Dixon said. “So maybe sometime next year we might need to say hey we really did hit the bottom. I think it’s the reason we really have to play it day-by-day.”
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter wondered if it would make sense to hire more staff to cut down on the $166,000 in overtime costs.
Superintendent of Corrections Jason Gundrum said that is not really an option right now.
“We are struggling to find people to work in that environment,” Gundrum said. “COVID has complicated that a lot. There are a lot of people that are hesitant to work in medical settings, there are a lot of other people now that are very hesitant in correctional environments.”
The commissioners have one more round of budget hearings Monday.
The Journal-News is committed to following budget decisions and concerns in Butler County, especially during the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. We have reporters following the meetings and talking with officials for the latest about how the budget decisions will affect residents.