Hamilton County's First Proposed Budget Cuts Look At Public Safety

Sep 17, 2018

Three townships in northwest Hamilton County could lose sheriff patrols. Hamilton County could go without preventive maintenance for 190 outdoor warning sirens. And the county's 911 emergency center could increase the fees it charges communities for answering calls.

These could be some of the effects of Hamilton County's $29 million budget deficit for next year. County Administrator Jeff Aluotto presented commissioners with possible cuts to public safety Monday morning.

The sheriff's office is looking at $8.5 million in reduced spending. Aluotto says that could eliminate the sheriff's presence in the heroin task force and at the Fusion Center. It could mean the end of the organized crime division, and road patrols in Whitewater, Crosby and Harrison townships. Those three townships don't have a contract with the county for patrols.

Aluotto says the budget cuts could also mean a big change for the electronic monitoring program. "While it's not a mandated program, per se, it is an alternative to jail time that is used regularly by the courts that is a little bit less than one-third the per-day cost of incarceration," he says. 

That could strain the jail population, or mean more people being released from the Justice Center, he notes. 

He says the budget cuts would also mean the end of some rehabilitation, recovery and re-entry programs in the Justice Center.

The budget shortfall may also force the 911 Communications Center to increase the fee communities pay, Aluotto says, adding the amount hasn't been determined yet.

"We have to be conscious of the sensitivity of this. Whatever dollar increase it is may not garner us exactly the $560,000 to $1.4 million, given the work-arounds communities may employ to reduce their detail cost."

The Hamilton County Coroner's Office must cut around $657,000. Aluotto says that could mean slower autopsy results and delays in death certificate issuance. It could also eliminate some drug, firearm and DNA testing services at the crime lab.

Aluotto says cutting those could affect other parts of the budget. "A lot of people don't typically recognize the speed by which the coroner acts and can carry out the investigation of evidence leads to a direct impact on the capacity and the population in the Hamilton County Justice Center."

Aluotto plans to have a budget submitted to commissioners by October 1. His schedule calls for 2019 general fund spending to be approved by November 14.