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Trumbull County looks at ’20 budget

WARREN — Trumbull County commissioners are having budget hearings this week with department heads who are making their case for 2020 general fund spending.

Although departments are requesting a total of $55.8 million, commissioners and Auditor Adrian Biviano are likely to approve appropriations closer to the 2019 budget, they said.

In 2019, $48.112 million was originally appropriated from the general fund, and the revised budget the county is expected to finish the year with is $48.157 million, according to information provided by the auditor’s office. Departments requested $51.3 million in 2019. In 2018, the final budget was $47.436 million.

Commissioners and Biviano plan to meet with the sheriff’s office today. The office is requesting about $2.5 million more over the amount it is projected to have spent once 2019 is over — $12.190 million. The sheriff’s office is requesting $8.618 million for the jail, over the $5.019 million spent for 2019; and $6.050 million for other sheriff’s office operations, compared to the $5.019 million used in 2019.

The building maintenance department is requesting $2.931 million, compared to the $2.485 million spent in 2019.

Department head Al DeVengencie said many of the heating and cooling systems in county buildings are 20 to 30 years old.

While some of the systems are still holding up with “duct tape and elbow grease,” there are increased maintenance costs. And some of the buildings — such as the Trumbull County Jail, the courthouse and the juvenile justice center — may need complete overhauls.

Any capital improvements won’t be paid for with general fund money, but in loans, Biviano said.

DeVengencie said he has to work with the auditor’s office nearly daily to get funds to make the repairs he needs done to keep county buildings open. But to eventually get the systems up to “modern standards” will take “millions,” DeVengencie said.

Commissioner Frank Fuda said the county has lacked a comprehensive approach to maintenance, leading to the patchwork solution.

Building inspection revenues from permit fees went from $630,000 in 2018, to $917,000 in 2019, said Mike Sliwinski, department head. Although $200,000 was from a large permit awarded to TJX HomeGoods for a new distribution center in Lordstown, that still marks an increase since the department began stressing permit enforcement, Sliwinski said.

“People coming in for permits, across the board, are up,” Sliwinski said.

The only permit structure not seeing increased revenue is for new construction, Sliwinski said, a regional trend likely related to the high expense of new home building vs. the well-priced existing homes available in the area.

Commissioners and Biviano will continue meeting department heads today. A budget is likely to be finalized early next year.

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