Coronavirus: Montgomery County plans more cuts, future layoffs possible

Montgomery County plans to slice its general fund budget an additional $11.1 million this year after already cutting $17.9 million due to plummeting tax revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The county also might use furloughs, layoffs and voluntary separation plans next year, according to a resolution county commissioners will vote on Tuesday.

The proposed new cuts would happen in three phases beginning with $5 million on June 1, $3 million in July and August, and another $3.1 million in November and December.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our local and national economy has taken a big hit,” said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge. “Making these proactive and strategic budget reductions is in the best interest of our community.”

The cuts represent a 16% reduction of the general fund over the year — or 21% in the nine months affected by the pandemic, according to the county.

April data from the state’s Office of Budget and Management show April sales and use taxes down 24%, or $236.7 million statewide.

Montgomery County’s budget office has made adjustments based on projections of a 25% decrease in tax collections for March, April and May, according to the county.

County commissioners will review each upcoming phase before implementing to determine whether economic conditions warrant the cuts, according to the resolution.

The county will also consider extending a hiring freeze, as well as begin planning for 2021 budget reductions that could include salary freezes. In addition to furloughs, layoffs and voluntary separations, the county is considering making employees pay more toward health insurance premiums in 2021, according to the resolution.

The county’s adopted 2020 budget includes 4,239 positions.

MORE: Coronavirus: Montgomery County provides face mask stipend to workers

Cascading business shutdowns and decreased economic activity have blunted the resources the county relies on, Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said.

“The loss of revenue from decreased sales, property and casino taxes, along with declines in local government funds and payments for services, require us to make some tough decisions,” Colbert said. “We will continue to monitor the situation and recommend additional budget adjustments as needed.”

Sales tax revenue was budgeted this year to bring the county a little more than $100 million, or $8.5 million a month — a bulk of it sales tax revenue, according to Colbert.

Montgomery County commissioners declared a fiscal emergency in early April and made the initial $17.9 million cut to the general fund budget.

During the proposed June round of adjustments, a $1.5 million general fund commitment to the Preschool Promise program will instead come from human services levy funding, according to the county.

The June round of cuts also eliminates the $1.25 million fall Economic Development and Government Equity grant program. The spring round of ED/GE grant funding was axed during the first round of cuts in April.

Later in the summer, the county plans to reduce professional and maintenance services among other items.

A hiring freeze expected to save $7 million was announced in April along with curtailing improvements at the county jail along with renovations and upgrades to other facilities.

“We have a lot of our work ahead of us,” Dodge said. “Our essential services have continued throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to provide resources and support to help our citizens and businesses recover.”

Unemployment in April rose to a record 14.7% nationwide, a rate unseen since the country was in the throes of the Great Depression. In Montgomery County, 3,297 people filed new claims for jobless benefits, while 35,616 filed for continuing claims for the week ending May 2.

MORE: Unemployment rose to a record 14.7% in April

County commissioners on Tuesday also are set to establish a temporary Montgomery County office to administer and distribute funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that is passing through the county to local organizations. The state of Ohio was allocated more than $4.5 billion in the act.

Montgomery County was one of 171 counties or cities with a population of more than 500,000 deemed eligible to request direct payments from the U.S. Department of Treasury for expenses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

Montgomery County’s allocation is about $92.8 million.

Using funds through the CARES Act, county commissioners have already approved assistance for area first responders and organizations that provide preschool education, housing for the homeless and food to those in need or bound to their homes.

Montgomery County budget adjustments

Due to loss of revenue during the coronavirus pandemic, Montgomery County cut its general fund budget in April. Commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on three more phased adjustments to reduce expenses.
April budget adjustmentsAmount
Temporary travel freeze (all departments)$250,000
Hiring freeze (essential personnel only)$7,000,000
Strategic Community Projects/Grants$1,000,000
Alternatives to Incarceration$1,000,000
ED/GE Program$1,250,000
Building Security Upgrades/Improvements$2,000,000
County Jail Upgrades/Improvements$2,000,000
Facilities Capital Upgrades/Renovations$3,400,000
Total April budget measures$17,900,000
June budget adjustments (proposed)Amount
Transfer Preschool Promise to Human Services Levy$1,500,000
Eliminate fall ED/GE Program$1,250,000
Freeze capital equipment spending for 2020$1,000,000
Request advance on auto title payment $1,000,000
Savings from hiring freeze$250,000
Total June budget adjustments (proposed)$5,000,000
July-Aug. budget adjustments (proposed)Amount
Reduction in professional services$1,500,000
Reduction in maintenance services$600,000
Reduction in communications$200,000
Reduction in rentals$100,000
Reduction in social services$200,000
General Fund budget control adjustment$400,000
Total July-Aug. budget adjustments (proposed)$3,000,000
Nov.-Dec. budget adjustments (proposed)Amount
Worker's Compensation rebate$1,600,000
Capital interfund transfer$1,500,000
Total Nov.-Dec. budget adjustments (proposed)$3,100,000
Total approved and proposed adjustments$29,000,000
Source: Montgomery County

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