Commissioners pare away funding requests to prep for final budget
By Randa Wagner -
Morrow County Commissioners have been whittling away at fund requests from area agencies for weeks to conform to monies certified for the 2013 general fund.
Today at 11 a.m., public officials will receive their 2013 budgets versus what they requested at a public hearing in the commissioners’ meeting room.
The task to shave $1.6 million from what was requested versus what is available is a painful one, commissioners say.
“We have multiple agencies that need funding and we’d like to fund all of them,” Tom Whiston said Monday. “All of them have (already) made steps to reduce their expenditures — we’re in difficult times.”
Complicating the issue is an additional $415,000 of debt not figured into the general fund at all; unpaid child placement costs with Job and Family Services.
Commissioner Tom Harden explained to meeting attendees that the issue involves over 20 special needs youths that are placed in foster homes and special facilities. Some of those services are very expensive. The county has an obligation to care and seek treatment for at-risk youth.
Commissioner Dick Miller explained Title 20 money is funding that has always been given to Jobs and Family Services that funds a major portion of their budget. They’ve been cut over the years, Miller said, so [JFS] no longer has money to pay for these state-mandated services.
“The governor isn’t going to cut the local government funds anymore, thank goodness,” said Whiston, “but the cuts that have taken place have crippled us, and we have $415,000 in child placement costs — and it grows daily.”
Whiston said the county paid outstanding debts from 2011 but is still left with unpaid bills from 2012, and though those costs are not included in the general budget, ‘perhaps they should be, since the debt is an obligation of the county.’
“If we have to make cuts to get those (debts) paid, there will be severe cuts for everybody,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate one department feels they’re immune to that. ‘Separate but equal’ does not mean a bowl of plenty.”