Clinton County budget talks progressing


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



WILMINGTON — Clinton County commissioners expect to wrap up their budget meetings with individual county government departments next week, and then will discuss among themselves the shape of the county’s total General Fund budget for 2019.

A breakdown of a recent Clinton County General Fund budget shows justice and law enforcement accounting for 57 percent of the expenditures, general county operations 21 percent, services to citizens 15 percent, and elected office administration 7 percent, according to an informational leaflet at the commissioners office.

In a Wednesday commissioners’ appointment with Tony Nye of the county’s OSU Extension Office, Nye said there have been some structural changes at The Ohio State University affecting county Extension offices statewide. For example, he and Clinton County 4-H Youth Development Educator Tracie Montague no longer are considered county director or county co-directors, he said. That title, said Nye, “has been taken away.”

Nye advised commissioners, “We still have fiscal responsibility [for the county Extension office], but there’s now someone above us who is in charge of more of the oversight after we’ve looked at everything.”

That someone is Chris Bruynis at the Ross County Extension Office. He now has the title of leader for Clinton, Fayette, Pickaway and Ross Counties.

Nye said he still watches the local Extension office’s monthly statements and those kind of things.

“It’s just now there’s another level of oversight that’s in it,” he said.

The structural changes at OSU Extension Offices throughout the state began in August, Nye added.

At a separate commissioners’ appointment, Clinton County Juvenile and Probate Judge Chad L. Carey said the proposed 2019 budget for his courts has no increase with one exception. The way a court investigator is paid has been changed to bring flexibility for cases where she works an atypical number of hours.

The person is employed as an independent contractor, and has not had a raise in the nine years since she started, the judge said.

She gets a flat fee for most cases, but occasionally there will be a case for which she spends a lot of time and which involves a lot of travel. Under the new setup, when the court investigator exceeds a certain number of hours, she starts getting paid by the hour, said Carey.

Clinton County Commissioners President Patrick Haley said the new arrangement is fairer to the court investigator. The funds to pay the investigator do not come out of the county’s General Fund cashbox.

Although the meeting topic revolved around the juvenile and probate courts budget, Judge Carey did remark that from his vantage point, “Heroin seems to be down, and meth is back in town.”

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

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By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com