Mahoning juvenile court seeks budget increase


$6.5M request covers health care, building maintenance, full-time nurse

By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Mahoning County Juvenile Court is asking for a 2.24 percent increase in its general-fund allocation for 2017 over its original general-fund appropriation for this year.

In a Tuesday budget hearing before the county commissioners, the court asked for $6,523,437 for 2017, compared with its original appropriation of $6,380,261 for 2016 and its revised 2016 budget of $6,391,977.

The requested increase is due to increases in employee health care and building maintenance costs and the need to convert a nurse’s position in the juvenile detention center from part-time to full-time to meet an American Correctional Association accreditation standard, said Wes Skeels, the juvenile court’s chief probation officer.

The juvenile court’s general-fund budget pays for the court, its clerk’s office, probation department, building maintenance and the round-the-clock operation of the juvenile detention center.

Jennifer Pangio, the court’s chief financial officer, said she estimated overtime costs at $80,000 next year because they’re at $65,000 so far this year.

“The judge has done a lot with her grants in order to take some of the stress off of the general fund,” said Audrey Tillis, executive director for the county commissioners.

“That’s huge what she does with the grants,” Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said of Judge Theresa Dellick of juvenile court.

Pangio said grants to the court this year total nearly $2.8 million.

“They come to your court because of the way your court is run through your direction. You would not get those grants if you had a dysfunctional juvenile court,” Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti told Judge Dellick.

“If you follow the right practices and use the best evidence, the money comes for the programs,” Judge Dellick said of the grants.

The county budget commission has certified general fund revenue of $34,291,288 for 2017.

The general fund is the county’s main operating fund, which supports the courts and the central operations of county government.

The budget commission, consisting of the county prosecutor, auditor and treasurer, has certified $28,080,000 in justice fund revenue for 2017.

The budget commission’s certifications assume the loss of $925,000 in revenue from the Medicaid managed care organization sales tax that will expire next year.

The 2017 certifications are subject to change in the coming months due to year-end carryover and changing projections for tax revenue.

“We should be fine as far as meeting both budgets this year and meeting the revenue estimates,” Tillis said of the general and justice funds.

“We still have the stabilization reserve,” the equivalent of a rainy day fund, which likely will total nearly $4 million at the beginning of 2017, she added.

The justice fund consists of the sheriff’s, prosecutor’s and coroner’s offices and 911 emergency dispatching center.

Requests from departments for 2017 total $35,333,586 for the general fund and $29,465,101 for the justice fund.

Revised 2016 budgets are $35,285,653 for the general fund and $27,876,672 for the justice fund.

Tillis said she expects the commissioners to enact 2017 general and justice fund budgets by Dec. 15.

The commissioners have until Dec. 31 to enact a first quarter 2017 or a full year 2017 budget.

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