Richland County courthouse

The Richland County Administration Building is located at 50 Park Ave. East in downtown Mansfield.

MANSFIELD -- Richland County commissioners on Tuesday balked at a request from the county treasurer's office to transfer $5,000 to salaries to cover unbudgeted employee "incentives."

Commissioners declined to approve the request from Treasurer Bart Hamilton until an explanation for the request is provided.

The treasurer is on vacation and no one from his office attended the meeting.

"In the grand scheme of things, $5,000 in a $40 million budget is not a big deal," Commissioner Tony Vero said afterward. "This (board commissioners) wants to especially monitor salary lines and transfers to the salary line within the budget year.

"If there is an increase, all we ask is justification for it," Vero said. "This time, we had a request for a transfer to salaries that was not explained and the answer we received seemed to be more of a threat."

In an email on Monday, Vero asked Hamilton for justification. Hamilton responded that Chief Deputy Andy McGinty would attend Tuesday to explain.

"If we can't move money, then we will need to decide who to lay off for the rest of the year, even though we still have over $30,000 in our general fund health insurance line item," Hamilton said in his email response on Monday.

On Tuesday, McGinty said in an email to Vero that the request was "due to incentives that were paid to a couple of employees during the transition period between when (former Chief Deputy Matt Finfgeld) left and I started as chief deputy.

"This expense was unexpected and therefore not accounted in the 2021 budget. These employees are general fund employees and looking at our current budget, there seemed to be additional funds in our health insurance line that was able to cover this shortage," McGinty wrote in his email.

Just before commissioners met Tuesday, Vero replied to McGinty that he only saw one employee "who received the incentive."

"Can you advise on the others? Can you also advise as to where the bonuses were accounted for in the budget? We are going on the record in five minutes if you would like to come over," Vero wrote.

During the meeting, the three commissioners were unanimous in holding back approval until an explanation is provided. All three said they didn't oppose such bonuses, but required explanation as the county's budgeting authority.

"If you are going to give away bonuses, they should be budgeted," Commissioner Darrell Banks said. "If they are not, come and talk to us."

Also on Tuesday, commissioners approved a request from the Richland County Sheriff's Department to transfer $90,000 from its salary budget to be used to help fund a new K9 unit, including a vehicle, dog and related equipment.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"