This afternoon at the Franklin County government complex, County Administrator Kenneth N. Wilson presented his proposed 2020 budget to the Franklin County Commissioners, kicking off the first of three planned budget hearings. The commissioners are the administrative arm of county government, and set the budget for all other offices, even those headed by independently elected officials. Selected county agencies will present their 2020 budget requests during the hearings, and the commissioners will vote on a final county budget on December 17th
. This year, the hearings are being held in the commissioners’ new hearing room on the first floor at 369 S. High St. The commissioners’ general sessions will move to the new hearing room beginning December 10th
“As it is every year, the 2020 budget is all about financial strength and stability” said Administrator Wilson. “We place a premium on smart planning here in Franklin County, and it shows in our balance sheets.”
Wilson’s proposed budget is balanced, and contains funding not only for the core government services provided by the county, but also for new commissioner initiatives aimed at improving the lives of county residents and families who may be struggling to get ahead. Among these is a $2.5 million poverty initiative the commissioner began last year that has culminated in the creation of the Rise Together Blueprint
to address poverty, and a plan to work with social service partners and the business community to attack the 120 goals and action steps identified in the blueprint. Also funded in this proposed budget, is the commissioners’ new affordable housing initiative
. That plan will add to the approximately $17 million that the county annually spends on housing affordability with a new investment of an additional $6.8 million per year to create more than 2,000 new affordable housing units in the coming decade, as well as a new $500,000 commitment to the Community Shelter Board to be dedicated to homelessness prevention measures.
“Our proposal this year is a forward-thinking document that represents the commissioners’ commitment to responsible government and reflects their principles of serving every county resident every day,” said Wilson. “County government provides safety, election, social services, and other core functions but how we go about it is a choice and the commissioners’ priorities are clear.”
As is usually the case, the majority of the county’s General Fund budget this year (58%) is dedicated to community safety and security, such as the sheriff’s office, courts, jail, and prosecutor. Conversely, the largest category of the All-Funds budget (42.6%) supports human and social services such as county Job and Family Services, ADAMH, the Office on Aging, and the Veterans Service Commission.
As usual, a key aim of county administrations’ budget planning is to preserve Franklin County’s stellar Double Triple-A bond rating, which was reaffirmed by Standard and Poor’s on November 5th, and which saves taxpayers money by allowing the county to borrow at lower interest rates. Wilson also noted that, while the budget proposal is structurally balanced, it does show a slight dip in the county’s ending cash balance. This is a result of spending the $7 million that the commissioners have been saving for next year’s 27th
pay period. After 2020, the General Fund ending cash balance is projected to continue growing, Wilson said. The proposed 2020 budget also includes a $2 million increase for the Board of Elections for costs associated with the 2020 presidential election.
Another focus of this year’s proposed budget is on county employees. “Our people are the county’s greatest asset,” said Wilson. “They work tirelessly and professionally every day for the residents of Franklin County, and the commissioners and other elected officials couldn’t do any of our important work without them and their shared commitment to smart, service-oriented government.”
Wilson’s proposal contains a reserve of 3.5% of budgeted payroll for cost-of-living and merit raises for non-bargaining employees, though how that will be allocated is up to each elected official. The Board of Commissioners is also set to continue the Downtown C-Pass program that provides a COTA bus pass for employees in participating agencies, and maintain its long-time commitment to promote gender and race-based pay equity. Two other pilot programs have recently been made, or recommended to be made, permanent-- a Paid Family Leave benefit and an initiative to promote volunteerism in the community by commissioner employees. Lastly, Wilson said that he is proud that his budget includes no increase, for the county or the employees, for the cost of employee healthcare in 2020. Nationally, yearly health cost trend is at about 7%.
“The residents of Franklin County are the reason we do what we do, and I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” said Wilson. “We’re looking forward to 2020 and working hard to ensure that the coming decade as successful as the past ten years have been.”
For more information and to see the full proposed budget, visit https://budget.franklincountyohio.gov/
2020 Budget Hearing Schedule:
- Monday, November 18th at 1:00 p.m.
- Monday, November 25th at 1:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 26th at 1:00 p.m.