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Hamilton County 2018 Spending Approved

Bill Rinehart

Hamilton County commissioners have approved a 2018 general fund budget. Board President Todd Portune says the $241 million spending plan is balanced and meets the county's obligations.

"We've balanced it in a way that gives us a year to look very hard at what's on the horizon for Hamilton County in 2019, and what we're all going to have to do to work together to meet our obligations," Portune says.

Commissioners expect Hamilton County will lose $57 million in state funding and face $8 million in new mandates next year.

The 2018 Hamilton County general fund budget isn't optimistic about sales tax revenue. Commissioner Chris Monzel says that's fine with him.

He says last year the budget included a prediction of four percent growth, "which I thought was too aggressive. This year we're doing one percent, which I think is the right amount."

Monzel says the budget includes funding for reducing infant mortality and for 911 communications without raising rates for communities or hiking the property transfer tax.

"I think those are all very positive things for our community. There are some things I don't agree with. I think I've heard you don't want to make perfect the enemy of good," Monzel says.

He opposed raising the property transfer tax, which was supposed to raise money for the county's 911 system. For next year, commissioners used cuts and reserve funds to pay for 911. They'll look for a permanent funding source in 2018.

The budget does include a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all county employees, and funding for addiction treatment and improvements to county facilities.

Commissioners also approved the county's capital budget and the MSD operating and capital budgets.