CINCINNATI - When the county's Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives put out the 2013 Preliminary Forecast Budget calling for another $20 million in cuts, the auditor wasn't surprised.
"The successive county commissions...as far back as the last 10 years have been kicking the can down the road," he said. "At some point you come to the end of the road, and I think that's what's happening."
The forecast calls for most of the county to be socked with deep cuts.
The biggest monetary loss is $3.3 million to be cut from the Sheriff's Office, even though that amounts to a relatively modest 5.8 percent percent reduction.
Not far behind is the prosecutor, losing a potential $3.18 million or 29 percent of their piece of the county pie.
By percentage, the Court Reporters would have the worst of it, at 36.2 percent cuts, totaling $890,513.
Overall, 21 departments would be cut, and six would see their budgets increase.
Only two, the County Engineer and Job and Family Services, are predicted to have no change at all.
The biggest increase in spending is projected to be the Communications Center, which would see just under a $3 million jump.
Rhodes says the budget problems could soon become legal problems if something isn't done.
"What they've got to do at this point is do the things they are required to do, and stop, cold turkey, all this other stuff," he said. "I'm talking about things like the Port Authority, like economic development, and all this wonderful, glorious stuff... Well, it's not going to be great if they can't do their basic services."
The cuts likely would mean hundreds of layoffs across the board.
Rhodes fears the 17.8 cut to his office could make it difficult to have the staff to pay the county's bills.
In a memo to the commissioners, County Administrator Christian Sigman warned the road ahead would be rough:
"The county will be faced with balancing two very difficult tasks for 2013: further reducing
departmental budgets and implementing a revenue solution," the memo said. "The former without the latter will jeopardize mandated service levels, likely elicit legal action by the judiciary and other elected offices, and very possibly put the county in fiscal emergency. The latter, even in combination with the former, will require a great deal of public engagement to advance."
To see the 2013 Preliminary Forecast Budget for yourself, go to: http://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/administrator/bsi/budget/Forecast13.pdf.
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