Some of Butler County’s biggest budgets don’t cost taxpayers

The Butler County commissioners will wind down a series of 2020 budget hearings today with some big spending plans that don’t cost local taxpayers.

The commissioners are expected to discuss the county’s Water and Sewer department, whose $54.3 million in expenditures don’t include taxpayer funds. The social service agencies also don’t draw from the general fund, as Children Services is funded by its own levy and state and federal funds and Job and Family Services and Child Support Enforcement are supported almost entirely with state and federal funds.

JFS Executive Director Bill Morrison said his department budgets conservatively to ensure avoid issues if their funding from those sources changes.

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Children Services receives 45 percent of its revenue from the levy and the rest from state and federal sources. Expenses for next year are projected at $27.3 million, with $25.2 million in revenues. The agency will start the year with a $10 million cash balance.

“It always looks like five years from now we’re going to drive off a cliff,” Morrison said. “That’s just because of very conservative formulas where we estimate all of our expenditures higher than we think they are going to be and all of our revenues lower than we think they are going to be.”

Revenues are projected at $26.8 million in 2024 to cover $30 million in projected expenses.

County Administrator Judi Boyko is compiling a five-year capital improvement plan to implement once the county eliminates its general fund debt at the end of next year, and she will be presenting it to the commissioners Monday.

“The 2020 budget is somewhat of a bridge into the commissioners’ next phase, general obligation debt-free,” Boyko said. “But that doesn’t mean the commissioners are going to be reckless in that money is going to be expended unwisely, or really any differently. The commissioners always want to have a balanced budget that provides services and operates county government as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.”

Clerk of Courts Mary Swain will be the last officeholder to meet with the commissioners, and she will once again turn excess title fees to the general fund, which this year total $1.5 million. Since she took office 10 years ago, she has transferred $10.35 million to the general fund.

“We really were aggressive in making our title division strong, customer-friendly and frankly a solid revenue machine,” Swain said. “We get tremendously positive customer feedback, and because of the revenue, our title offices are self-sufficient, cost-wise.”

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter had asked previously if the money could be earmarked for historical courthouse restoration. When she was the court clerk, she also transferred excess title fees. Swain told the Journal-News she trusts the commissioners will make good use of the money and she won’t ask that it be directed anywhere in particular.


The Journal-News has covered each step of the Butler County commissioners’ budget hearings to inform taxpayers about what’s happening with the county funding. For news tips, call 513-863-8200, ext. 6 or email

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