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Hamilton County Looking For Ways To Keep Local Money

Bill Rinehart
The Commission is still working on a general fund budget for 2018.

Hamilton County commissioners have an eye on decreased state aid and unfunded mandates as they craft the 2018 budget. Board President Todd Portune wants to take a deep dive next year but is already identifying some numbers.

"$28 million in direct revenue losses from the state of Ohio since 2007. On top of that to the extent we can identify specific dollar amounts of the cost of unfunded mandates, that's another $ 8.7 million," Portune says.

His worries come as the county faces declining sales tax revenues and an aggressive push to update or replace infrastructure and county facilities.

Portune says Hamilton County cannot be forced to do certain state-mandated tasks without having the "tools or means in which to perform those duties or responsibilities."

He says the county administration will look for non-priority operations and talk with state government about Hamilton County's ability to take up those tasks.

Portune is also asking County Recorder Norbert Nadel to identify the amount of local money contributed to Ohio's Housing Trust Fund. A certain portion of recorder fees are redistributed around the state to pay for low-income housing projects.

"We're collecting all this money. Half of what we send to Columbus we don't get back. I can't imagine the needs of other counties around the state of Ohio are any more significant or alarming than are the needs of the homeless that exist in Hamilton County."

Portune says it's worth considering using some of that money to create a local housing trust fund.

He referenced a 2017 analysis from the Cleveland Plain Dealer that indicates Hamilton County sends about $410 million worth of taxes and fees to state government that are not returned in state aid, services or programs.