Clarification: The courtroom used by Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler is budgeted to receive an additional $23,000 this year for personnel needs. In an earlier version of this story, county Commissioner Steven Hambley said the money would be used to hire a new employee, but the judge said the funds will be used for part of the salary of a magistrate and uniform staff salary increases. There are no plans to hire an additional staff member.
MEDINA — Medina County commissioners Tuesday passed a $38.7 million budget for 2014, only about 1 percent more than last year.
“Nobody got everything they wanted but we think everyone got what they needed,” said Commissioner Stephen D. Hambley. “We kept things in balance, that’s the important thing.”
Commissioner Patricia Geissman said commissioners debated over several line items. The major point of contention was the Medina County Port Authority’s request for funding to pay half the salary of a consultant hired to market Innovation Park in Lafayette Township.
University Center Innovation Park, located along Technology Lane, north of state Route 162, is owned by the Port Authority and is part of a Community Reinvestment Area project approved in 2012.
While the 70-acre park offers tax abatements, so far its only occupant is the University of Akron’s Medina County University Center.
“It’s been nothing but a money pit,” Geissman said.
Geissman said part of her objection is that the Port Authority still hasn’t paid back any of a $262,000 loan from the county two years ago.
The Medina County Economic Development Corp., which oversees the Port Authority, will receive an additional $81,000 this year to cover that expense.
“Even though I didn’t want to, I went along with it because it needs to be sold or we’ll never get our $262,000 back,” Geissman said.
The money will be granted as a two-year, interest-free loan.
Other areas were more cut and dried.
The Medina County Sheriff’s Office will receive about $83,000 more this year for employment and salary needs, including a 2.5 percent raise that all county employees and union members received.
Much of the money will pay for an additional deputy on the payroll and for 30 additional hours per week of court security duty.
The courts themselves will receive more money as well, all for personnel needs. Employees of Judge James L. Kimbler’s courtroom will receive additional funds for increased staff salaries, to the tune of about $23,000.
“When it comes to personnel, they can add what they need. It’s part of the constitutional division of government,” Hambley said. “We can only limit their travel and equipment expenses.”
The same thing goes for another $70,000 to the adult probation division and $50,000 for the juvenile court.
But while additional money is given, it also was taken away.
The Building and Maintenance Department will receive about $17,000 less for payroll this year and the department on the whole will operate with almost $30,000 less than last year. The county garage budget also was cut by $7,000 and the county Agriculture Department lost $15,000 for its operations.
“I think overall we’ve kept the belt tight,” Hambley said. “There are no new services or expansions, and by and large I think we trimmed down a bit.”
Hambley said the need to keep the purse strings tight means other long-standing needs might not be met again this year.
“We still didn’t have the capacity for the courthouse expansion and that need is still there. And in building and the capital improvements budget that we’ll need to find money for, like heating and air conditioning system replacement,” he said. “Right now we’re getting by and we’ll be OK for a year or two.”
Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.