Monday, December 1, 2008

Budget Myth and Budget Fact #1: The Commissioner/Administration Budget

This budget cycle is painfully difficult, as we all know.

Unfortunately, it gets even more difficult when myths and claims are made, or rumored, or disseminated, that are not true, and when these myths and falsities create even more misunderstanding and confusion about what is happening. But that's what politics has become, unfortunately.

I'm going to use this blog in the coming weeks to address the different myths that make their way around the County, so we can all be on the same page about the real facts and figures we have to grapple with.

Myth #1: That the County Commission/Administration ("6th Floor") are not sharing the sacrifice in the budget cuts.

Fact: We have taken a hacksaw to the bloated Commission/Administration budget we inherited from the Heimlich/DeWine majority in 2006, and are doing so again in the 2009 budget.

Background: When I got to the Commission in January 2007, and the majority switched, we inherited a Commissioner/Administration ("6th Floor") budget that could fairly be described as top heavy. In addition to their own aides and the Administrator, Commissioners Heimlich and DeWine had:
- directly hired a Deputy County Administrator (Ron Roberts), who made $170,000 per year (2nd highest salary only to the Administrator, and who answered directly to the Commissioners)
- hired a Construction Executive for the original Heimlich/DeWine jail project, who made $150,000 per year (3rd highest salary under general fund)
- they had a generously staffed office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives, and far more administrative staff on the 6th floor
- they had a full-time "policy analyst" who had previously been a Heimlich aide. He directly served the commissioners (those in the majority, that is).

All these positions interacted as one unit, in large part because many of these hires came directly from the commissioners themselves, or from their own offices.

At that time, the Commissioner's and Administration's 6th Floor budget also included very generous spending on miscellaneous payments, miscellaneous contracts, and equipment.

What's happened since January 2007?

The new majority, and the administration, have taken a hacksaw to the 6th floor budget we inherited:
- we eliminated the $170,000 Deputy Administrator position (who directly served the commissioners)
- we eliminated the $150,000 Construction Executive (who served both the commissioners and Administrator)
- we eliminated the policy analyst (who directly served the commissioners)

By the time we are through with our 2009 budget, we also will have:
- eliminated an Assistant County Administrator position (another of the top paid positions in the County)
- eliminated two budget analysts
- eliminated the MSD comptroller position
- eliminated a grants coordinator
- eliminated a support staff and other administrative services positions
- eliminated several purchasing positions
- significantly reduced outside grants, payments and contracts that the Commissioners/Administration previously doled out
- frozen all top wages, and given back salary increases that were mandated by state law

What are the numbers?
- from 2005 through 2009, the 6th floor budget has been cut by 45% (from $5.19M in 2005, to 2.8M in 2009); the budget will go down 36% in 2009 alone
- from 2006 through 2008, salaries were cut by 11% (and will be more in the 2009 budget)
- the 2nd, 3rd and 5th highest paid positions at the County (which were also under the commissioners) as of 2006, will no longer exist in January 2009
- equipment spending, 2006-2008, was cut by 95%
- miscellaneous payments, 2005-2008, cut by by 85%
- miscellaenous contracts, 2006-2008, cut by 35%

Bottom line: there are many empty offices on the 6th floor that had previously been filled by the Heimlich/DeWine administration. Many of these positions had been directly hired by commissioners, and directly served the commissioners. Those positions eliminated were among the highest paid staff in the County. And under this budget, there will be even more empty offices, and lower spending, in 2009.


Anonymous said...

WOW! Nice to see the do as I say not as I do Heimlich/DeWine administration was replaced by voters with the true fiscal conservatives - Democrats.

Anonymous said...


While cutting staff don't forget to take some lessons from the Rove state street boys !


Anonymous said...

Amazing that all the big salaries, waste and fat happened while COAST/Finney/Heimlich were in charge, and apparently on a hiring binge. And the best part is that Roberts and construction executive's main job was to put together the Butler County and new jail plans, which were both disasters. We should get a refund on their salaries, since their work went nowhere.

And all the cuts to these positions only happened once COAST/Heimlich/DeWine were ousted. Somehow the truth gets lost in their newsletters that I've seen.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that the Pepper/Portune majority is refusing to cut their own personal staff assistants?

David Pepper said...

That's actually not true. We haven't made any decisions at this point, and nothing should be off the table.

Anonymous said...

I suspect almost every county agency can point to similiar reducations by attrition. That's not the issue. The question is what reductions are the Commissioners making in their own staff from current levels. After all, you are asking others to make significant cuts in their staff. How in the world can you do that without being willing to do the same? A mulititude of verbage does not equal leadership, actions do. Harry Truman used to say the buck stops here. In the Boy Scouts the Scoutmaster always eats last. The Board of Commissioners could profit from their example.

Anonymous said...

"Is it true that the Pepper/Portune majority is refusing to cut their own personal staff assistants? December 2, 2008 8:03 PM"

What are you talking about ?

Da whinner was the best lacky assistant that could have every been cut from the budget !


Anonymous said...

So commisioner's how many have you cut from your staff?

Anonymous said...

So if JFS laid off 178 and the Simon Leis is laying off 87 by Christmas what are the numbers in the other county offices? can you break it down for us?

Free Blog CounterEnglish German Translation