Franklin County Administrator, Kenneth N. Wilson, this afternoon presented the administration’s proposed 2021 budget to the board of three county commissioners to kick off this year’s annual budget hearings. Wilson is the county’s highest unelected official, and oversees the budget process. The commissioners will preside over two days of budget hearings before voting to approve an amended budget at their final meeting of the year in December. As the administrative branch of county government, the commissioners set the budgets for all county agencies and departments, even those overseen by other elected officials.
This year’s proposed budget reflects the unusual nature of the current economy, lower sales tax receipts, and greatly increased needs for support throughout the community. It is balanced, however, and includes no expected layoffs or furloughs for county employees. Programs supporting the commissioners’ main priorities are also largely untouched, though a 2.5% reduction for most General Fund agencies and programs will help to save the county nearly $11 million.
“This proposed budget is responsible and sustainable,” said Wilson. “And it is focused on our residents, businesses, homeowners, non-profits, and families, and on the ways that we can help them to recover from the very difficult economy and public health crises that we’re experiencing right now.”
Wilson said that sales tax receipts, which make up most of the county’s General Fund revenue, are expected to have been down about 5% in in 2020, and not to fully recover throughout 2021. Federal support in the form of $76 million in CARES Act funding has been essential in helping the county to support the agencies and non-profits that Central Ohio residents rely on.
Proposed 2021 General Fund spending is about 4% lower than in 2020, and expected revenue is down about 10%. The county will be able to make up the difference with funds from its unrestricted cash balance, which leaves the Rainy Day fund untouched at $62.5 million. All Funds revenue is also expected to be down about 10%, while proposed All Funds spending (which largely supports social and human services) is up about .3%.
“We are fortunate in Franklin County to have entered 2020 in a strong financial position,” said Wilson. “That and the forward looking, conservative approach to planning that we have taken throughout the years have allowed us to weather this financial storm better than many local governments around the state. We expect the economic downturn to continue for some time, but we will be prepared to meet whatever challenges may lay ahead.”
Full details of the proposed budget and a schedule of budget hearings are available at budget.franklincountyohio.gov