The Cincinnati sheriff says No money, no jail.

Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis said today there is a “very strong possibility” he will eliminate security at the courthouse and other secure buildings and shut down entire floors at the Queensgate jail in order to comply with budget cuts.

“It’s a sad day,” said Leis. “In my 37 years in county government, I’ve never seen the county in such financial straits as this.”

He also said layoffs are likely and patrol deputies will be told to park their cars for 30 minutes of each hour to save gas.

His department is being asked to trim $903,668 – the second largest dollar amount. It already cut its budget 10 percent coming into 2008, partly by closing 40 beds in its detention center. The department that would lose the most money is the sheriff’s office at $2.2 million.

The county is telling 32 departments to cut their budgets by 5.96 percent for a total of $6.9 million. The Board of Elections is exempt because it is required by law to spend money on certain election-related items.

Because of laws regarding the separation of powers in government, some departments, such as the courts, could file a legal challenge questioning the county’s authority to mandate the cuts.

County commissioners say the county has no choice. Revenues are on track to be $12 million less than expected because of the sluggish economy.

Typically, counties can dip into their reserve fund – like a personal savings account – in hard economic times. But Hamilton County’s reserve fund is dangerously low because of what some characterize as careless spending in previous years. With the cuts, the reserve fund will be $13 million – or 5 percent of the county’s total budget – at the end of the year.

If the cuts aren’t made, the county will soon be broke and may not be able to make payroll.

You Tell Me

Is this sad or is this funny? It’s hard for me to tell anymore. Here is one thing I can absolutely guarantee you on: There is nothing inflationary about this at all.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List