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Cuyahoga County Passes Biennial Budget

December 14, 2021

Cuyahoga County Council completed a two-month process and passed its 2022-2023 Biennial Budget on December 7, 2021. The proposed budget was introduced by County Executive Armond Budish at the Council meeting on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Following the overview presentation from Budget & Management Director Walter Parfejewiec, we had a series of meetings in which we heard from the directors of all major county departments regarding their budgets. The central issue that emerged was determining the proper staffing levels for the various departments.

Following our standard practice, the budget hearings were held in the Committee of the Whole. All Councilpersons participated in the budget process and contributed to the final product. We were also in frequent communication with County Executive Budish. The result was a budget plan that reflected the consensus of Council and was supported by the Executive.

The following is the presentation that I made on the budget prior to its final passage, summarizing the key provisions:

This resolution approves the 2022-2023 Biennial Budget and Capital Improvements Plan for Cuyahoga County. Thanks to everyone who made this budget resolution possible. I particularly thank Council President Jones, all of my colleagues, Trevor McAleer, Joe Nanni, Kahlil Seren, LeVine Ross, Jim Boyle, Brendan Doyle, Andria Richardson, Executive Armond Budish, Directors Walter Parfejewiec and Mike Chambers, Chief of Staff Bill Mason, and Michele Pomerantz for their assistance. The budget resolution is notable in that the Executive and Council came to full agreement on the budget despite initially being somewhat far apart.

The Council supported all of the Executive’s new initiatives. The budget provides additional funding to provide more competitive compensation for corrections officers and other safety personnel. We also fund the Central Booking construction and operation to provide an additional tool for jail population management. We provide requested funding to start the county utility. We also fund the tuition reimbursement program to help county employees improve job-related skills and make county employment more attractive. By agreement with the Executive, funding for that program is funded at 50% in 2022 in recognition of the time it will take to get the program up and running.

The budget resolution also includes significant County Council initiatives. We are providing $4.4 million over two years to hire additional social workers at DCFS. We realize this effort will only be successful if accompanied by an expanded recruitment effort and changes to make the job more attractive. We are committed to working with the administration to do these things. The budget includes several other Council initiatives including an additional $125,000 per year to add an additional CTAG School by competitive bid, $100,000 per year to assist Crime Stoppers, $75,000 per year in additional funding to Global Cleveland for translation services, $120,000 per year for additional staffing at the Dog Kennel, and $200,000 per year to increase the RTA bus subsidy for County employees. We also added funding for the Prosecutor’s Office, Juvenile Court, Re-Entry Services, Department of Internal Auditing, and the Inspector General Office to better anticipate their likely expenditures, and we added funding for additional Board of Revision Hearing Boards to handle an expected influx of property tax valuation complaints. We also took action to incorporate Director Johnson’s 5-year IT Capital Plan into our budget and capital improvements planning process.

During the budget hearings we had a lively discussion about the Executive’s strategy not to budget for vacancies. Where we came out is in-between. It appears that budgeting for likely staff turnover does make sense for large agencies with hundreds of employees but not for smaller agencies. We also found that we have to take the unique features of each department into account. This budget represents our best determination of each department’s needs, and I believe that it accurately represents the consensus of Council as a whole.

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