’07 county budget grows to $46 million
A routine budget approval became controversial last Wednesday when Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme voted against the county’s 2007 spending plan.
"I cannot in good conscience vote to approve the additional financial officer that our public works director has put into his budget," Woolstenhulme said before the County Commission voted 2-1 to approve the $46 million budget.
Kevin Callahan, administrator for Summit County Public Works, wants help managing his department’s budget, which increased 32 percent to nearly $13 million.
Rejecting the county’s budget committee’s recommendation that Callahan hire an administrative assistant with a salary of $30,000, Commissioners Bob Richer and Sally Elliott approved a roughly $70,000 pay and benefits package for a full-time financial executive for public works.
"The committee was overruled," Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier said. "The committee’s recommendations are generally accepted."
For Summit Park, Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch residents concerned when roads in their neighborhood aren’t snowplowed 24 hours during storms, commissioners budgeted $10,000.
"We want to try to provide effective levels of snow removal in the most cost-effective way possible," Richer said.
Meanwhile, next year’s $46 million budget represents a nearly 19 percent increase in Summit County but doesn’t call for a tax hike.
"Whether we like it or not we’ve run out of space in a lot of our facilities," Frazier said, adding that the budget jumped nearly $6 million to cover new capital projects. "We have a lot of services we’re providing now that 10 years ago we didn’t provide."
Earmarked next year is $2.1 million for the purchase of land for new roads and buildings.
Designing a new Landmark Drive near its intersection with State Road 224 could cost $1 million and another $731,000 is budgeted in 2007 for installing landscaping and trails near the highway in western Summit County.
Next year, $500,000 is budgeted for expansion of the Summit County Justice Center in Silver Creek.
Among the eight new full-time employees the county expects to hire next year are two new detectives and a school resource officer for the Sheriff’s Office, two new librarians and an officer to hear code enforcement case for the county’s planning department.
"It’s been many years since Summit County has seen a tax increase," Richer said, adding that four years ago the county’s budget was $26 million.
New growth and surplus monies reportedly helped stop property taxes from increasing in 2007.
According to Frazier, "Natural growth is what we’re still working on, and some surplus monies."
Responding to requests from Elliott for funds to construct trails and clear snow from sidewalks, Frazier said commissioners were provided an additional $30,000 in discretionary money to use next year as they choose.
Increases expected in individual department budgets include:
The budget for the Summit County Attorney’s Office jumped 18 percent.
The budget for the Summit County Commission increased 6 percent.
The budget for the Summit County Auditor’s Office increased 11 percent.
The budget for the Summit County Clerk’s Office decreased 9 percent.
The budget for the Summit County Treasurer’s Office jumped 8 percent.
The budget for the Summit County Recorder’s Office increased 5 percent.
The Summit County Assessor’s Office increased 7 percent.
The public safety budget for Summit County jumped 16 percent.
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