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Hamilton County Commissioners Approve 2021 Budgets

Bill Rinehart

Hamilton County commissioners are wrapping up 2020 by setting next year's budget. The board Thursday approved a $290.7 million general fund budget.

Board President Denise Driehaus says the spending plan covers ongoing investments and new priorities.

"Things like the Justice Center treatment beds that are coming online next year; (the) Coroner's Office that's coming online next year; our collaboration with EMA getting ready to dispense a vaccine; the (economic) disparity study will be coming next year. We've got some revitalization grants for communities and investments in the Port and REDI for site readiness, and investments in the nuts and bolts: IT, some of the capital improvements, and most importantly, our employees who deserve to be recognized for their work, especially in a really challenging year."

Board Vice President Stephanie Summerow Dumas praises the administration and county finance department for working hard with extra constraints caused by the pandemic.

"We're mandated to be structurally balanced but we also were able to include some items that we did not know if we'd be able to do," she says. "We came (out) on top with this, also knowing that there are some risks that may happen in 2021."

Driehaus also acknowledges it would've been more difficult to craft a structurally balanced spending plan that covers everything the county wants to accomplish without additional sales tax proceeds. Commissioners approved a one-quarter percent increase in October 2019. It took effect April 1, 2020.

"I just want to state the obvious here that that's the reason we are not struggling to just keep the lights on as we have in years past," says Driehaus. "And the CARES Act funding, obviously, had a tremendous impact on what we did this year."

The board also approved a new three-year contract with county sheriff's deputies and corrections officers, and the 2021 Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) budget at $222.8 million and $72.5 million of the $123 million MSD Capital Improvement Program budget.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.