Independent Financial Review Shows Decade of Cuts, Revenue Need Coupled with Efficiencies 

Hamilton County Commissioners were presented with an outside accounting firm's preliminary results of a top-to-bottom financial assessment of the structural imbalance in the general fund budget. The review found "the general fund will require revenue enhancement in 2020." And "The 0.25% sales tax dedicated to the general fund will allow for the 2020 general fund budget to more closely balance, when coupled with efficiencies." 

Read the October 1, 2019 Presentation here.

Read the Full Presentation here. 

Commissioners partnered with the Cincinnati Business Committee (CBC) and the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC) to fund an independent and thorough analysis of the county’s short and long-term fiscal health.  Hamilton County faces an on-going structural imbalance that has yet to be solved despite a decade of budget cuts and stop-gap measures that no longer exist. 

Similar to other communities, the County has experienced declining revenues since the recession in 2007.
Chart showing forecasted expenses exceeding revenues by close to $50M by 2024

The county projects a structural imbalance in the 5-year pro forma for the general fund even with an assumed sales tax of 0.25% added to support the general fund. That means there is still a deficit in years 2023 and 2024 even with the sales tax adjustment that is estimated to bring in $20 MM in 2020 and $40 MM thereafter. That budget gap challenge can be managed through efficiencies identified in the report and continued prudent budgeting.  
2019-2024 General Fund ProForma - chart showing estimated revenues exceeding income in 2024 even with sales tax increase

The assessment also compared Hamilton County to its peer counties and found Hamilton County is more reliant on property tax than sales tax compared to most other counties. 
Ohio Peer County Comparisons - Hamilton County relies on property tax and intergovernmental revenues more than peer counties, and less on sales tax for general fund revenue

The review is being conducted in two phases. Phase one assesses the causes of the county’s structural deficit and will identify options for addressing it through spending reductions, new revenues and enhanced efficiencies. Phase two examines the long-term stability of the county including structural modifications and engaging other local governments. 

Updated 10-23-19

Posted on 10/23/2019