Seneca County commissioners recommend 20-percent cuts to salaries countywide
Request that elected officials and department heads submit reduction plans by Monday
[Tiffin, OH April 7, 2020] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners recommended 20-percent cuts to salaries for the rest of 2020 for all county General Fund departments Tuesday afternoon, in response to negative financial headwinds related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 20-percent salary reduction is coupled with contract changes/cancellations and major reductions to supplies, travel and equipment lines, to balance the budget as it is expected the county will see significantly reduced revenue.
The reduction is to be based on expenditures from now through the end of the year.
Before the commissioners met Tuesday, the Seneca County Budget Commission reduced its General Fund revenue projection for 2020 by $2 million.
The budget commission expects possible reductions in all or most of the county’s top five revenue-generating lines, in addition to varying changes across all other lines. Sales tax, property tax, casino tax, ICE and jail housing and local government funds all could experience varying levels of reductions compared to the initial 2020 projections. Those five revenue earners made up 75.7 percent (about $13.2 million) of projected revenue for this year.
The commission, which includes the county auditor, county treasurer and county prosecutor, certified this figure but members also cautioned revenue figures could become worse. The board meets again May 5 at 9 a.m.
County Prosecutor Derek DeVine said that the certification of a $2 million reduction should serve as a first step, as the pertinent data needed to project revenue moving forward could vary greatly and on a daily basis.
Commissioner Shayne Thomas thanked county leaders for their spirit of collaboration.
“This is unparalleled, we’ve never been through anything like this,” he said. “We think we need to make 20 percent in personnel cuts to work toward having a balanced budget.”
Commissioner Mike Kerschner said department heads and elected officials could be creative to find a way to reach the 20-percent cut. He said a four-day workweek is one example.
“We ask you all to try and be as kind and as sympathetic as possible,” he said.
The commissioners asked departments to submit changes by Monday, and they will review them along with County Administrator Stacy Wilson. Wilson then could make further reductions. The commissioners control the General Fund budget.
The commissioners’ office expects to lead by example by announcing cuts soon.
The board also approved a resolution allowing employees to be eligible for benefits at 25 hours per week, changing it from 30 hours. This lends some flexibility to department heads and elected officials as they attempt to make cuts.
Commissioner Anthony Paradiso said he hopes this, and other tools and resources that have been offered will help departments come up with the necessary cuts to help balance the budget.
According to a preliminary report from the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, sales tax revenue in March statewide could be lower than projections by 8.3 percent. Sales tax collection lags by two months, so the March sales tax is collected in May.
The COVID-19 health crisis has already begun to impact the economy across the state and the country, but the worst could be yet to come.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the state saw 272,117 jobless claims for the week ending March 28. The previous week saw about 196,297 claims in the state, making nearly 470,000 over a two-week period. In 2019, there were 364,603 initial unemployment claims filed.