TOLEDO, OH – The Lucas County Commissioners voted unanimously to pass a $600 million budget for 2017 that provides critical funding for operations and reforms across county government, including upgrades in technology and operational efficiencies, continued criminal justice reform, a continued focus on workforce and economic development, water quality and sustainability efforts, and building upon inclusion and community partnerships.
Lucas County will maintain its focus on water quality and other sustainability issues facing residents. Lucas County launched Clear Water 2, a public outreach and education program to fight for a healthy Lake Erie and to ensure that all of the Western Lake Erie Basin is working together to reduce phosphorous and other pollutants from entering our extensive river system that feeds into Lake Erie. Lucas County, in cooperation with the City of Toledo and other partners, have joined together to develop a first-of-its-kind web tool, the Western Lake Erie Nutrient Source Inventory. This web-based tool will identify sources of pollutants into the Western Lake Erie basin.
“Lucas County will continue to be a leader in our collective response to Harmful Algal Blooms and the effect they have on our local economy and the quality of life for all of Lucas County,” said Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak. “We will target our investments to protect the health of Lake Erie,” concluded Commissioner Wozniak.
The Lucas County budget reflects the ongoing commitment to advance safety and justice throughout Lucas County. Through county investment in diversion and pretrial reforms and leveraging a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, Lucas County has been able to cut the number of beds paid for at the Correction Center of Northwest Ohio (CCNO) by 128, reducing our community’s costs by $3.3 million. Lucas County also implemented an innovative evidence-based pretrial risk assessment tool to increase public safety, manage jail population and support the fair and cost-effective operation of our criminal justice system.
“Investment in criminal justice reform will save taxpayer money through reduced incarceration, and is a commitment to the safety of our community and our citizens,” said Commissioner Carol Contrada. “Lucas County is committed to working with all our partners to ensure that these investments show results,” added Commissioner Contrada.
Lucas County will also sustain investment in workforce and economic development in 2017. In 2016, Lucas County Department of Planning and Development created Lucas County Builds, an innovative investment tool designed to provide funding for job creating projects in Lucas County. The first investment of Lucas County Builds is the new Dana Manufacturing plant at Overland Industrial Park. This project is expected to add hundreds of jobs to our local economy.
The Department of Planning and Development is also integral in the development of the WorkReady Manufacturing program. WorkReady Manufacturing trains and assits Lucas County job seekers as they seek manufacturing jobs coming to Lucas County. Staff at Ohio Means Jobs Lucas County works with prospective employees to ensure they have the skills that are required in today’s manufacturing environment.
“Economic Development is a top priority of the Lucas County Commissioners. Our investments will continue to pay dividends in jobs and construction,” said Commissioner Pete Gerken. “Lucas County is acting to protect our economic future,” added Commissioner Gerken.
Lucas County is also investing in efficiencies throughout our operations and the services provided to residents of the county. Lucas County is developing a comprehensive capital improvements assessment of all county owned buildings allowing for a more streamlined approach to multi-year capital planning.
Furthermore, Lucas County is also reforming our purchasing department to capture efficiencies in purchasing throughout all departments under the direction of the Lucas County Commissioners, effectively saving taxpayer dollars and making government more efficient.
Two significant issues challenge Lucas County’s fiscal health. The withdrawal of the City of Toledo from paying its expenses of our shared criminal justice system has a 2017 budgetary impact of $11.4 million. Changes to the allocation of state sales tax regarding the collection of managed care tax through Medicare may result in a potential loss of $2,750,000 in sales tax. To meet both challenges, Lucas County will be expending $6,300,000 from the county’s reserve fund to balance the 2017 budget.
“With the $11.4 million withdrawal of the City of Toledo from participation in the criminal justice system, coupled with conservative planning for the additional reduction from the state’s sales tax, we are significantly utilizing county reserves for the first time since the end of the recession of 2008,” said Laura Lloyd-Jenkins, Lucas County Administrator. “We will be working closely with all departments and other elected officials to make sustainable reductions, while investing in programs that show long-term cost savings for the taxpayer,” concluded Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins.
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