Hamilton Co. department heads receive budget cut goals

Deep cuts possible for $20 million shortfall

CINCINNATI - If you want to pay a traffic ticket in Hamilton County right now, you can go to the Clerk of Courts office in the Justice Center 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

However, Clerk Tracy Winkler said Tuesday that might have to be cut back to Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

That's one of the decisions Winkler has to make to meet budget goals given to her by Hamilton County's Administrator Christian Sigman.

Sigman said Monday deep cuts and new revenue are needed to erase a projected $20 million general fund deficit for 2012. That's higher than had been anticipated.

Winkler said she may have to cut about 16 percent of her budget, which would mean laying off 34 of her 214 employees. She said that might mean reducing the hours at the cashier's windows, delaying scanning documents electronically for the website courtclerk.org or slowing down the retrieval of papers filed for pending court cases.

At the same time, Winkler added she's been meeting with judges to try and come up with new ways to increase revenues and prevent layoffs among her staff members.

The 2013 preliminary forecast budget shows the following variances between the 2012 and 2013 budgets:

Auditor (-17.8 percent)
Board of Elections (-22.4 percent)
Clerk of Courts (-15.8 percent)
Commissioners and County Administration (-24.1 percent)
Communications Center (+123.4 percent)
Contracts and Subsidies (-7.6 percent)
Coroner (-23.3 percent)
County Engineer (0 percent)
County Facilities (-19 percent)
Court of Appeals (-4.1 percent)
Court of Common Pleas (-8.8 percent)
Court of Domestic Relations (-13.8 percent)
Court Reporters (-36.2 percent)
Debt Service (-11.6 percent)
Economic Development (+5 percent)
Emergency Management (+37.9 percent)
Job & Family Services (0 percent)
Juvenile Court (-5.2 percent)
Municipal Court (-18.8 percent)
Non-Departmentals (+15.5 percent)
Planning & Development (-3.5 percent)
Probate Court (-19.4 percent)
Probation (-30.9 percent)
Prosecutor (-29.3 percent)
Public Defender (+2 percent)
Recorder (-30.4 percent)
Sheriff (5.8 percent)
Treasurer (-11.4 percent)
Veterans Service Commission (+1.5 percent)

Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann said the reductions are needed because of cutbacks in state funding, the upcoming elimination of the estate tax and stagnant tax revenues.

The forecast doesn't address the stadium sales tax, which is projected to be $15 million in the red next year. That's a pool of money different from the general fund.

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