Commissioners work on 2023 budget

Jan. 25—JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners hosted a budget work session on Tuesday morning.

The commissioners had a series of meetings with elected officials and department heads in November and December to discuss budget requests for 2023.

County Administrator Janet Discher ran through a number of the proposed budgets at Tuesday's work session.

Commissioner Casey Kozlowski requested that the Ashtabula County Prosecutor's Office budget be reduced by about $150,000, and that same amount of money reserved for outside counsel.

"I'd like for that to be reflected as an overall legal expense," he said.

Discher recommended creating a new line item under contractual services for those funds.

Additionally, Discher said she believes she has more work to do on the budget before making recommendations on it.

Kozlowski said the decision was to make sure the county had funds set aside in case of any situations where the need for outside counsel arose.

"Just in case there's a conflict," Commissioner Kathryn Whittington said.

For the county Recorder's Office budget request, Discher recommended eliminating a requested additional full-time position.

Discher said she is still reviewing the budget submission from the Sheriff's Office, which is the largest single budget request submitted to the county.

She said she adjusted some numbers in the Sheriff's request to bring them closer to actual expenditures from 2022.

"There's a lot of times that people come in with a wish list," Discher said.

The commissioners discussed providing the Northeast Ohio Regional Airport with $250,000 from the county's economic development fund.

Airport board members requested $494,000 from the county for 2023, and last year they received $350,000 in economic development funds, Discher said.

For the Court of Common Pleas budget, a pair of issues were raised, one was a request for $100,000 for professional services, and another was a request for $189,628 as reimbursement for the cost of court security in 2021 and part of 2022, before the Sheriff's Office took over court security.

Kozlowski said he was happy to have a conversation about professional services, but he firmly believes the reimbursement is not something the county should consider funding.

Commissioner J.P. Ducro said said he agrees.

"The issue is really being brought forth because of myriad other issues," he said.

Another budget meeting is scheduled for next week.

In other business:

—At a meeting before the budget work session, the commissioners scheduled a hearing on a request from the New Lyme Township Trustees to vacate a section of Fee Road. The hearing will take place at 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 23.

The New Lyme trustees are seeking to vacate a 310-foot section of Fee Road, between Brownville and Dodgeville roads.

The commissioners plan to schedule a visit to the site.

—The commissioners also set a hearing date for the county's Community Development Block Grand programs at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 23 in the Commissioners' Conference Room.