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Presiding Commissioner, Greene County
Presiding Commissioner, Greene County

2015 Economic Outlook: Bob Cirtin

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Bob Cirtin brings to the county a business mind to address a revenue shortfall, an overcrowded jail and underpaid staff.

2015 Projection 
“Even though we are budgeting flat in 2015, I project that sales tax revenue will occasionally increase from quarter to quarter.”

SBJ: As you settle in at the county, what are the front-burner issues?
Bob Cirtin: The biggest challenge is to develop a budget based on our projected revenue that we already know is not sufficient to fund the services that are expected and desired by our citizens. We operate on sales tax money primarily. We’ve been holding budget hearings, and we know what the needs are. The next step is to begin the very difficult decision making of where to allocate certain funds.

SBJ: What’s the projected operating revenue for 2015?
Cirtin: We’ll probably end up being somewhere around $133 million to $136 million and out of that general revenue will be about $33 million. That will allow us to provide essential services but not as fast or in a manner citizens expect sometimes. The requests that we have from officeholders and department heads total over $9 million above that projected revenue. We can’t do that.

SBJ: Where are the discussions at for what to cut?
Cirtin: They’ve cut more than 25 percent of the budget in the last four years. They’ve done a really good job in prioritizing, and there’s not a whole lot that can be cut anymore. People have a hard time believing that. For Greene County, that is true. I’ve seen the numbers. I’ve seen the job openings that have not been filled. Beginning Jan. 7, the commissioners will get together and make those priorities and decide what we are going to fund.

SBJ: What will happen with the Jamestown property currently in the county’s possession?
Cirtin: The Jamestown development has been a big issue for us to deal with. But the good news is it’s soon to be coming under the heading of accomplishments. We’ve had many inquiries about the purchase of the property. It is looking very optimistic it’s going to be resolved for the county and our citizens in 2015. No question about that.

SBJ: The overcrowding at the jail has been much publicized. Have you turned your attention to that yet?
Cirtin: It’s on the list. It’s on everybody’s list. The capacity is supposed to be the upper 500s, but there are 600, close to 700, people in that jail every day.

The job of the commissioners, with respect to the criminal justice system, which includes the jail, is to provide the sheriff as much funding as possible to pay for staff to run the sheriff’s department. The commission does not micromanage the jail. I want the public to understand this. We cannot think of solving the overcrowding of the jail as a jail problem. It is a systemic problem impacted by every aspect of our county’s criminal justice system.

SBJ: You were sworn in Jan. 1, but you’ve had your head in county offices since winning the election. What have you learned about operations so far?
Cirtin: Greene County employees get paid about 24 percent less than somebody in comparable jobs in comparable counties. We are losing some really good people to other jobs, and we are not able to attract new quality people for the jobs we have open. For example, we had an information technology position to fill and they got it narrowed down to three candidates. Once two of them found out the starting salary was not negotiable, they weren’t interested in the job. In IT, they can go out to Jack Henry or Bass Pro or any big corporation and work for $20,000 to $24,000 more a year.

SBJ: Do you see a financial turnaround in the county’s future?
Cirtin: I am very optimistic about the financial health of Greene County. What the county is doing now is called high involvement planning. We’re budgeting for five years in the future. The second thing the county has done is adopted Jack Stack’s Great Game of Business. I’ve read it and I’ve gone to the huddle meetings on Tuesday morning. That allows every employee to have buy-in to this. There is no county employee that should ever say, “I wonder how much money we’re spending on this.” The numbers are out there. They’re calling it the Great Game of Government. Every Tuesday at 8:12 a.m., they get together.[[In-content Ad]]

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