October 22, 2019

Franklin County Commissioners Review the Preliminary 2020 Budget

The Franklin County Commissioners reviewed the preliminary budget for 2020.

The Franklin County Commissioners reviewed the preliminary budget for 2020 at this morning’s Board of Commissioners meeting. The preliminary budget is the first step in the County’s budget adoption process. It offers a summary of department requests based on expectations for revenue and expenses, including capital and personnel expansion requests.

“Our budget goals have been, and continue to be, making prudent use of County savings and retaining a healthy fund balance resulting in 60-90 days or more of reserves,” stated Commissioner Chairman Dave Keller. “There has been no tax increase for the general fund since 2015 and we intend to keep it that way,” he added.

Historically, the preliminary budget presents as significantly higher than the final budget which is proposed after direction is given by the board. The total preliminary budget for all county departments and operations for 2020 is $163.6 million which includes a 12% increase in health benefit costs and a required pension contribution of $3 million.

“Overall, the preliminary budget for just  the General Fund shows $48.7 million in revenue and almost $55.4 million in expenses, leaving a need for $6.7 million in reserves to balance the budget,” Teresa Beckner, Fiscal Director, said in her presentation. In regard to the difference, she stated, “It’s a best practice, as well as county policy, to maintain healthy reserve balances.”

On the preliminary budget as presented, Commissioner Bob Thomas commented, “This is not acceptable,” and asked questions to further clarify some line items. The Commissioners are set to deliberate the preliminary budget this Thursday in order to provide direction to staff on the priorities and parameters of the 2020 budget. This guidance is used to create an efficient and focused final budget.

“Our priorities continue to be public safety, technological advancements which lead to cost savings, covering unfunded mandates such as election equipment, as well as attracting and retaining quality employees,” said Commissioner Chairman Keller.

Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski added, “There are parts of the budget that we have no control over. For example, we have close to 500 people in our jail and I’m not certain that every one of them should be in there.” Commissioner Ziobrowski mentioned that, per capita, Franklin County’s jail population is much higher than other counties. He explained that crimes which affect public safety deserve incarceration, but for many others, incarceration may be unnecessary.  “By reducing the jail population by 100, we would save $3 million. There’s a lot of work to do, but it could make a significant impact on the budget. I look forward to working with our judiciary to reduce our jail population while keeping the public safe,” he said.

A 2020 proposed budget will be presented on November 26, 2019, at the Commissioners’ Meeting scheduled for 2pm.  It will then be available for public review at the Commissioners’ Office (340 N. Second Street) and on the county’s website for 20 days prior to approval.


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