At its last General Session meeting of 2019, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners passed a balanced, forward-looking budget for county government in 2020. As the administrative arm of county government, the three county commissioners oversee 14 county agencies directly, and set the budget for all other agencies and elected offices as well.
The commissioners held three public hearings on the budget as proposed by the county administrator before fine-tuning this final version, which has changed little from the original proposal. As in the proposed budget, the approved 2020 budget funds both core government services and some new commissioner initiatives, such as the Rise Together Blueprint
to address poverty and the commissioners’ new affordable housing initiative.
As always a key aim this year in the commissioners’ budget planning was preserving the county’s stellar Double Triple-A bond rating, which was reaffirmed in November and which saves taxpayers money by allowing the county to borrow money at lower interest rates.
Of the county’s General Fund budget, which is made up mostly of taxes and fees, 57.9% is budgeted for public safety purposes such as the county’s courts, jail, and sheriff’s office. The General Fund budget is 3.6% higher this year than last.
“Each year, the budget reflects the challenges our community faces and is an expression of our priorities,” said Commissioner Marilyn Brown. “We’ve made some important strides in 2019, and this year’s budget shows our continued commitment to serving every Franklin County resident every day, including significant new investments in our poverty initiative and affordable housing, as well as investing in our greatest assets—the hard-working women and men at Franklin County—by providing a $15 per hour minimum wage and paid family leave.”
The county’s all funds budget includes the General Fund as well as monies that come largely from state and federal grants. This year, as in most years, the largest category of the all funds budget is set aside for social services, with 42.4% allocated for agencies like Job and Family Services, ADAMH, the county Board of Developmental Disabilities, the Veterans Service Commission, and the Office on Aging.
“Franklin County is thriving, and we’re proud to be a part of that,” said Commissioner John O’Grady. “But it doesn’t just happen. It takes careful planning and consideration about how we’re going to allocate our resources each year to promote growth and make the necessary investments to keep helping families climb the economic ladder.”
One agency that will see a larger-than-typical allocation next year is the Board of Elections, which is preparing for the larger, more expensive, presidential election in 2020. Another interesting feature of this budget is that it expends about $7 million that the commissioners have been saving up for next year’s 27th
pay period, an oddity that happens every eleven or twelve years.
“Our budget team does a great job of making sure that Franklin County’s finances are strong and stable, and we’ve been recognized as one of the most well managed counties in the nation,” said Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce. “We plan years into the future to make sure that the county will be able to continue to provide our residents with the services they rely on.”
The complete budget and more information can be found at budget.franklincountyohio.gov. The commissioners’ next public meeting will be the first General Session meeting of 2020 at which a new board president will be selected on January 7th
at 9:00 a.m. in the commissioners’ new hearing room on the first floor at 369 S. High St.