Is Hancock County in financial trouble?
To the Editor,
Commission President Joe Barnabei recently posted a video indicating what he plans to do as a commissioner. In the video, he talks about how difficult it was to submit a balanced county budget this year. Submitting a balanced budget is a state requirement. Since in 2016 he strongly supported removing a nonprofit that operated our county animal shelter that increased county expenses by about $300,000 a year, he is partly responsible for this financial situation. As of March, the Commission had spent an additional $1,000,000 at the animal shelter due to this terrible decision. This decision also increased the death rate at the animal shelter. Ongoing, the decision will cost the county about $300,000 each year until a management change occurs at the shelter. Do you even know why Commissioner Barnabei pushed to eliminate the nonprofit when other counties were creating partnerships with nonprofits to reduce county expense?
Based on the county budget submitted to the State Auditor’s Office, to balance this years budget, the commissioners cut departmental budgets about $300,000 and transferred another $900,000 from the county “Rainy Day Fund.” A Rainy Day Fund is supposed to be used for emergencies or a major county project, not incompetent decisions made by the commission. With the pandemic forecasted to continue next year, county revenue is likely to continue to shrink. How will the commissioners balance next year’s budget? More departmental budget cuts, more Rainy Day Fund transfers (when will this option run out?) or county layoffs?
Could this year’s budget cuts been avoided if the commissioners had not taken over the animal shelter? Could the Rainy Day Fund transfer been avoided if the commissioners not created $1,000,000 in new expenses since 2016? This is what happens when you elect commissioners with a personal agenda such as Joe Barnabei.