Trumbull officials making plans for 2019 budget to be repeat of 2018

Published: Tue, November 20, 2018 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Ed Runyan


The Trumbull County commissioners are likely to approve a $47 million 2019 budget in February, the same budget as this year, Auditor Adrian Biviano said Monday during the first day of county budget hearings.

Despite the county’s loss of about $3 million in Medicaid-related sales taxes for 2019, the commissioners believe they will make it through next year without budget cuts.

But they have a lot of questions about whether Gov.-elect Mike DeWine will provide future replacement for the lost Medicaid tax funds and whether DeWine will return some of the money in the state’s bulging rainy-day fund to counties such as Trumbull.

During the hearings, various department heads mostly said the same thing: Their 2019 budget requests are generally the same as 2018 except for salary increases and step increases approved by the county commissioners through contract negotiations.

At the common pleas court, for instance, 2018 salaries are $1,252,905. That will rise to $1,295,739 in 2019 because of a $728 per-person pay increase, longevity pay and vacation cash out, according to documents the court provided. That is an increase of $42,834, or 3.4 percent.

The county also pays much of its employees’ share of their retirement plan.

The common pleas court’s 2018 budget is $3,376,869, but it is asking for $3,601,089 next year, an increase of $224,220, or 6.6 percent. Biviano said county department heads have requested about $5.6 million more than the county is likely to be able to afford.

Sheriff Paul Monroe has requested a $12.6 million budget for 2019. That includes money for his patrol division and jail operations. His 2018 budget is $11.65 million.

The commissioners also are making plans to spend about $5 million on jail improvements in 2019 to replace jail-security systems, such as electronics, communications and locks. They say the upgrades are needed because of the jail’s age.

The commissioners make those types of capital improvements through the sale of bonds and do not include them in a department’s annual budget.

Among the expenses Monroe said are going up at the sheriff’s office are inmate medical costs.

Medical care is provided through a $372,000 contract with Dr. Phillip Malvasi and his staff of medical professionals. But that cost does not cover all medical expenses. Kara Busebink, a jail bookkeeper, works with service providers to get the best price for other medical expenses not provided by Malvasi.

But Monroe would like to consolidate all jail medical costs and have one provider handle everything, he said.

He and his staff have been in talks with Steward Health Care, which operates Trumbull Regional Medical Center, and Mercy Health, which runs St. Joseph Warren Hospital, about having one of them take over jail medical services.

He plans to put out a request for proposal to organizations that could provide the services to evaluate what direction to go next.

One concern with the current arrangement is the rising cost of Malvasi’s medical malpractice insurance, which Malvasi will have to pass on to the sheriff’s office, Monroe said.

He said “frivolous lawsuits” are one reason why medical malpractice insurance costs are rising.

Subscribe Today

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive daily news.

Want more? Click here to subscribe to either the Print or Digital Editions.