Some Key Departments Struggling To Cut Costs

CLEVELAND (AP) - Some key parts of Cuyahoga County's government have struggled to cut costs, while commissioners figure out how to avoid a large deficit.

The county, with about 40 departments, 9,500 employees and a $1 billion budget, is trying to overcome a drop in tax revenues, cuts in state and federal funding, slumping investment returns and buyouts.

Most departments have attempted to reduce costs. Six Cuyahoga County departments are still projected to spend well beyond their budgets, The Plain Dealer reported Monday.

"Most of the agencies have now done significant cutting, which is the direction we wanted to head in 2003," said Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

Children and Family Services, which is responsible for foster children and abused and neglected children in the county, has the largest projected deficit, $18 million. The county has cut fees paid to private agencies that care for children and reduced staffing through early retirement packages.

Other departments and their projected deficits include:

  • The Sheriff's Department, $2.5 million, down $500,000 from projections in July. Patricia Kresty, the sheriff's executive assistant, said overtime for corrections officers and deputies caused most of the deficit.
  • The prosecutor's office, $1.7 million. Prosecutor William Mason said an increased caseload and an early retirement program pushed his office over budget.
  • The clerk of courts office, $1.4 million. Postage increases have helped strain the budget because the office has a large volume of mailings.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)