MANSFIELD -- Richland County commissioners are still about a month away from finalizing the 2020 budget.
But Commissioner Tony Vero said Monday the three-member board is pleased with the process, as well as the efforts of other elected officials and department heads.
Commissioners earlier this year asked departments to begin use of a universal budget template, beginning with the mid-year review in May. Current appropriations for 2019 total around $33.5 million.
The template has four major components -- a summary sheet, a line-item sheet for revenues, a line-item sheet for expenses and a sheet breaking down personnel costs by employee, salaries, hourly rates and anticipated pay increases.
"It's definitely streamlined the process in terms of helping us identify decreases and increases over the years," Vero said. "We can now look back over five years and see where costs have gone up or down in a department. It also helps give us a look at head count."
Commissioners conducted three budget hearings on Monday, including the juvenile court, which made a total budget request of $4.7 million, including $1.76 million for its juvenile detention facility.
Vero said the juvenile court, under new Judge Steve McKinley, is projecting to spend less money during 2020 for detention and its overall salary line is also expected to decrease next year.
"There is not much you can control with respect to the cost of residential treatment," Vero said, adding the court also receives significant, various grants toward its operations.
Three more budget hearings are planned on Tuesday with Vero and commissioners Marilyn John and Darrell Banks. Commissioners hope to finalize the budget on Dec. 20.
"(The budget process) is never easy, but we're pleased with the effort everyone has put into (it)," Vero said. "The requests at year-end actually came down from the mid-year review. Our clerk said that's the first time that has happened.
"Through the combined efforts of this office and others, we're going to have a very fiscally sound budget headed into the next calendar year," Vero said.