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Hancock County adopts furlough policy

FINDLAY - Most Hancock County government offices will close for five days this year as employees take unpaid furloughs.

County commissioners yesterday adopted a policy that calls for closing the courthouse and other county buildings Sept. 25, Oct. 9, Oct. 23, Nov. 27, and Dec. 24.

Commissioner Phil Riegle said the closures are expected to save about $65,000. The furlough days were part of $800,000 in reductions commissioners approved, including a 5 percent budget cut for all county departments.

"If you add that to the 6.5 percent reduction we made at the beginning of the year, that's an approximately 11.5 percent cut," he said. "Each department had to go through and find their own cuts."

Commissioners have looked into every corner to save money. They recently reduced cleaning contracts and moved some offices from leased office space into other county buildings.

Mr. Riegle said commissioners' goal is to end 2009 with a

$1.2 million carryover, which would enable the county to pay its bills until the first property tax settlement in March.

"We are certain there will be additional reductions in 2010," he said, adding that the situation will be more critical if county taxpayers defeat the 10-year, 0.5 percent sales tax on the November ballot.

Last September, commissioners enacted the 0.5 percent sales tax to raise money for county operations and flood mitigation and said they would put the tax increase to a vote after a year.

The board also enacted a 0.25 percent sales tax earmarked for capital improvements, including construction of a county court center, but commissioners last month agreed not to ask voters to renew that portion of the tax increase because of competing tax issues on the ballot.

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