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Proposed 2019 Hamilton County budget cuts spending, adds fees to close gap

Posted at 6:06 PM, Oct 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-08 22:06:32-04

CINCINNATI -- The proposed $237 million Hamilton County budget for next year includes some new revenues, but it also includes deep cuts in order to eliminate a $28 million deficit. 

The proposed 2019 county budget includes $20 million in cuts and $8 million in fee increases after a sales tax hike sought by some county commissioners was withdrawn after public pushback. 

County Administrator Jeff Aluotto proposed the budget that cuts everyone an average of 8 percent.

"There won't be any department in the county that won't feel some level of impact of this," he said.

The biggest proposed cuts are in public safety, especially the sheriff's office, which accounts for a third of the general fund. Patrols would end in Crosby, Harrison and Whitewater townships because they're provided for free. Addiction treatment services at the Hamilton County Justice Center would be trimmed $1.2 million.

"It's a tough time to be reducing revenues for treatment, which really is what that money represents," County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said.

On the revenue side, the 911 fee paid by communities could go up from $15 to $18. 

The property transfer fee may also be increased one mill for people selling their homes. That would bring in $3.8 million per year, but the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors is dead set against it.

"It's a money grab, unfortunately, is all it is," said Mark Quarry of the Realtors board.

Quarry said he's worried about the impact the fee increase would have on sellers.

"So, in a word, you can say, 'Anybody in Hamilton County who is thinking about moving, you better get out before your taxes go up in 2019,'" he said.

The commissioners have to set a final budget by the end of the year.

"It is a sobering document, with respect to what it calls for us to implement across the board at the county," Commissioner Todd Portune said.

Public hearings will be scheduled later this month and in November.