Commissioners transfer $1.95 million to address projected budget deficit

LIMA – The two-member board of Allen County Commissioners on Monday approved a resolution to transfer $1.95 million from three funds to the county’s General Fund to help alleviate a projected budget shortfall attributed to the COVID-19 virus.

Commissioners Greg Sneary and Cory Noonan adopted the resolution to transfer $1.2 million from the county’s Rainy Day Fund, $250,000 from the Capital Fund and $500,000 from the C-T-A Fund.

That action was coupled with a formal request to all county offices whose budgets are funded by the General Fund to identify 10% of their individual budgets that can be reduced.

Monday’s special budget hearing, as are all meetings of the board of commissioners for the duration of Ohio’s stay-at-home order, was carried live on the board’s Facebook page.

The commissioners previously had identified a predicted reduction in county income for the remainder of 2020 at $2.8 million. Higher-than-anticipated sales tax revenue returned to the state last week for the month of February reduced that anticipated deficit.

“We have to be pro-active in addressing a projected budget shortfall that has been estimated by the county’s budget commission to stand at $2.7 million by year’s end,” Noonan said Monday. “The longer we wait, the more severe it will be on our budgets.”

Sneary said cost-cutting necessities will come into clearer focus the longer the pandemic lingers.

“This is the first major adjustment we’ve done, but this in no way guarantees where we’re going to be at. This is a fluid moment. We have a long way to go” to figure out what the county’s ultimate budget deficit will be, he said.

“It’s important for us to turn over every stone to look into funds and accounts,” Noonan said.

Sneary said Allen County is ahead of many other counties in addressing projected budget shortfalls.

After talking with other county officials across the state, “We are on the leading edge of making these adjustments,” he said.

Noonan near the end of Monday’s meeting said phone calls would be placed to county offices not funded through the General Fund — the Soil and Water Conservation District and Public Defender’s Office, for example — to ask that similar budget reductions be implemented.

On Tuesday he dispelled a rumor circulating throughout the county that commissioners are contemplating a 33% reduction in stipend paid to court-appointed attorneys representing indigent clients.

“No, we’re not doing that,” the commissioner said, noting the rumor was based on “some miscommunication.”

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By J Swygart

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