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Ya gotta love my county.....NOT!

posted 8/20/2009 7:14:56 PM |
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The days of difficult decisions, such as a deeper reduction of services or employee layoffs, appear at hand for Scioto County's elected officials.

Ohio's top fiscal officer says that county officials have been unwilling to make suggested budget cuts, so they have no choice but to slice spending to erase a $3.5 million deficit.

State Auditor Mary Taylor placed Scioto County in fiscal emergency yesterday, the first such declaration for an Ohio county and a signal that it might not be able to pay its bills unless it reduces spending.

A state-appointed commission will work with the county commissioners and other officials to convert the red ink into black. The $2.8 million deficit in the county's general-revenue fund alone is the equivalent of 19 percent of annual spending.

"We discussed several options with the county commissioners, but they ultimately failed to implement them," Taylor said. "We clearly have reached the point where there are tough choices and tough decisions to make."

Taylor would not elaborate, but other counties that have faced rising costs and shrinking income have in recent months laid off workers, gone to four-day workweeks for some offices and asked employees to take unpaid days off.

Scioto Commissioner Thomas Reiser chafed at Taylor's suggestion that the county has balked at holding the financial line on the $15 million general-revenue budget.

"I think it sounded like we hadn't done anything, and that's not really true," Reiser said. The county cut spending by $1 million annually, reducing staff and cutting employees' work hours. But, that "obviously was not enough," he said.

"We thought 2009 was the year that we were going to make a comeback. When the economy fell flat, that reduced our revenue by close to a million dollars, and it just put us back in the situation we were in," he said.

Reiser attributed part of the problem to an influx of criminals and a new jail that proved expensive to build and operate. Sheriff Marty Donini did not return calls seeking comment.

Portsmouth, the county seat, long has been a destination for Columbus drug dealers who sell along the Rt. 23 corridor. And Scioto County's drug busts by state troopers are among the most in Ohio each year.

The county juvenile detention center, which is running a $754,124 deficit, also has been a budget-buster.

The county's sales tax, the source of much of its revenue, is at the maximum 1.5 percent, so there's little additional cash to be generated. Spending cuts are inevitable.

"There's already been pain, and there's probably going to be more," Reiser said.

As the first county placed in fiscal emergency, Scioto joins 18 Ohio cities and villages on that roster. Six more are on the less-severe fiscal watch list. None is in central Ohio.

Counties, municipalities and school districts have struggled to provide services and pay their bills amid a lingering recession that has depressed tax revenue amid layoffs, home foreclosures and a reduction in consumer spending.

Although other counties also have financial problems, none appears close to joining Scioto in fiscal emergency, Taylor said.

From The Columbus Dispatch today

This doesn't surprise me about my county. I feel that we have so many dim wits running things into the gound.

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Aug 20 @ 7:51PM  

Well if that's all they need ? I'll take it out of my small change jar.

Aug 20 @ 7:59PM  
Had something similar to that happen here in Michigan a few years ago. The state had to "take over" Flint for a while. Residents there weren't too happy about it.


Aug 20 @ 8:00PM  
Well if that's all they need ? I'll take it out of my small change jar.
Now that was funny!

Aug 20 @ 9:28PM  
Do you know what really sucks? I work in New Boston, I pay New Boston tax and I don't live there. I don't get it back on my taxes. Now I heard they want to raise the taxes again

new jail that proved expensive to build and operate.

Since when do criminal's get a better place to live than I have? They are suppose to pay $20.00 a day to stay in jail. How much you want to make a bet they don't pay it? I told someone a while ago that if they took everyone is Scioto county and put them in jail for one day and these people paid the $20.00 we would be out of debt.

Did you see all the pain doctor's that popped up in the burg? I guess it was on the new's and I never watch the new's. I looked on WSAZ and found the link to it.

Aug 20 @ 9:41PM  
Did you see all the pain doctor's that popped up in the burg? I guess it was on the new's and I never watch the new's. I looked on WSAZ and found the link to it
Sorry, Tammy, I didn't see that. I always get my news from WLWT-TV5 out of Cincinnati, and watch the FOX NEWS CHANNEL for national news when I watch tv.

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Ya gotta love my county.....NOT!