Commissioners discuss consolidation of government, talk county budget
By Taylor Kaser -
Consolidating services and cutting local government costs were the main topics at the commissioners’ June 6 meeting.
Commissioner Tom Whiston said that the budget will have to be reviewed in July.
An audience member asked how much money the county is receiving from the state for local government.
Commissioner Olen Jackson said that the county has received about $200,000 from the state, so far this year.
“We probably get about 10% of what the state mandates create for us.” said Whiston.
Jackson explained this year they have received less and will continue to do so. The county will receive 75% of what it received last year in the first six months, then 50% in the next six. Last year the county received $750,000.
Whiston discussed the state’s steady decline in local funding and the state’s push for consolidating services and offices as a possible money saving strategy.
He noted Cuyahoga County has changed their form of government — instead of three county commissioners, they have one county executive and a council.
The only other elected official is the County Prosecutor, all other positions are appointed by the County Executive and Council.
Earlier in the meeting, Whiston observed, “If you look at Ohio, from the standpoint of governmental entities, we way out-do any other state in the country. With our townships, municipal, and school districts– we’ve got a lot,” he said, “Our biggest cost [is] payroll; schools — 85% of their costs are for payroll.”
A discussion regarding the benefits and disadvantages of consolidation followed.
”If you consolidate,” asked Commissioner Tom Harden, ”what benefit is it going to be to the county and it’s citizens? Is it going to save us money or cost more?”
Speaking of consolidation on a larger scale, Whiston described a scenario in which Morrow and Marion Counties merged, with everything centered in Marion, as an example.
“They say they’re going to have a savings,” Whiston said, “but they don’t account for the fact that then people would have to go to Marion for all of their services. So they don’t account for the time, gas, or frustration. We as government have to understand that we’re here to provide essential services, and it takes a minimum standard to be able to do that. I think we’re below that in Morrow County.”
Also in the meeting, a transfer of $5,000 from utilities to cover jail repairs was approved from the general fund.
Keith Acker was appointed to the Morrow County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
Grant money received from Ohio EPA, $75,000, for the home sewage treatment system program, was placed in the HSTS Grants account.
A subsidy grant agreement for community-based corrections programs for the court of Common Pleas, was approved at the commissioners June 11 regular meeting. The amount, $89.901, will probably be used for probation officer salaries, noted Whiston.
For more specific information regarding how the money will be used, Whiston suggested checking with the court itself. The grant was a renewal, confirmed Harden.
A motion for the county to enter into an agreement with the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for grant funding was also approved.
A transfer of funds at the Community Service Building to cover janitorial supplies, $1,500, was approved.
Whiston announced that the county has received its 1812 flag and will be raising the flag on June 18 at 11:30 a.m at a ceremony at the Johnsville Library. Each county in the state received a flag.