Last week, the Warren County commissioners discussed whether to grant the budget request - for now - from carryover funds.
MORE: Jail doors back in Warren County Jail after near riot
Departments have been directed to keep budget requests close to 2017 levels as the county prepares to take on long-term debt to build a new $50 million jail and other growing expenses.
Commissioner Dave Young proposed the task force raise $60,000 from communities around the county, most of which already contribute cash or an officer to the operation.
“If we’re going to pay more, everybody else should pay more,” Young said during an Oct. 17 budget discussion.
MORE: Springboro home part of drug raid
But Kruithoff and Sims said communities last year upped their shares and suggested it was time for the county to increase its share: typically $140,000 since 2006.
The task force budget pays for six agents, as well as rent and utilities on the operation’s secure facility at an undisclosed location.
The sheriff's office, Franklin, Springboro and Lebanon provide officers to the operation, rather than funds. The force also collaborates with the DEA, FBI and regional and state drug agents.
Mason, and Turtlecreek, Deerfield and Clearcreek townships are among communities providing shares of the funding, based on population, that makes up more than $280,000 of the budget.
Barring more local support or another revenue uptick, Sims said staff would probably have to be cut at a time when problems with opioids are of epidemic proportions.
“It’s as bad as it’s ever been,” Sims said. “You take a huge piece away from our ability to keep people safe.”
MORE: Heroin plaguing Warren County
About $200,000 a year could be saved by moving the base of operations from its secure facility into the sheriff’s office.
By 2022, the deficit is projected to eliminate a carryover, mostly from forfeiture funds, and grow to $500,000 a year, Sims said.
“Tomorrow, if they make a $200,000 seizure, this thing gets pushed down the road,” Sims said.
Despite the budget crunch, Kruithoff said the task force needed to continue its focus on high-level drug dealers and drug trafficking.
“That’s the job. Chasing forfeitures is not the job of the drug task force,” Kruithoff said. “The forfeitures will come.”
State and federal law and rule changes have cut into forfeiture proceeds in recent years. In 2013, the county received more than $514,000 from federal forfeitures, less than $19,000 last year, according to task-force records.
MORE: Sessions signals more asset seizure proceeds coming
In July, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated his office would make it easier for drug agents to cash in on property and money seized from suspects.
“It may get back up there,” Sims said. “They depended on those forfeiture dollars.”