Belmont County Commissioners held their annual budget hearing Wednesday morning.
It was the first in what will become many discussions before the 2018 budget is finalized.
Commission President Mark Thomas said they’ve put all department heads on alert, that there will be less money coming in from the state, yet more unfunded mandates to carry out.
For instance, the pay rate for a court-appointed attorney in a death penalty murder case used to be $60 to $75 an hour.
“With this new state budget, it’s now $125 per hour. That’s an unfunded mandate. That’s an example where the law changes, the state changes the law and gives us no money to do it,” said Thomas.
“The unfunded mandates, the cuts that Mr. Thomas referenced are very real and you know unfortunate,” said Commissioner J.P. Dutton.
Fiscal Officer Barb Blake addressed the board. She said this budget is for the fiscal year starting in January.
Because the county is expecting a decline in revenue, commissioners asked each department head to prepare their budget, not as a “wish list”, but with realistic expectations.