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Cuyahoga County approves 2024, 2025 budgets with big investments in staffing

Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne gesticulates as he speaks in front of the U.S. flag, the Ohio flag and the Cuyahoga County flag.
Michaelangelo's Photography
Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne addresses the audience on the banks of the Cuyahoga River during his first State of the County address on Friday, June 30, 2023.

Cuyahoga County passed its budget for 2024 and 2025 this week. It's the first biennial budget to be passed under County Executive Chris Ronayne.

The budget includes funding for major staffing additions, including 40 new social workers for the Division of Children and Family Services, another 40 case workers for the Cuyahoga Jobs and Family Services and 40 more correction officers for the county jail.

These added employees will ease the burden on the existing staff and better serve the county, Ronayne said.

"We need to be there with the appropriate manpower to appropriately deliver humane, efficient, caring services for those in our custody," Ronayne told Ideastream.

Ronayne calls the budget "pro-children," citing the investment in staff that support children's programs. It also includes a $2.1 million increase to the juvenile court’s budget to attract and hire more detention officers.

"I was very focused on sourcing gaps in children’s services, and that can relate to social workers, juvenile detention staff, programs, things we need to apply more toward a pro-kid budget, which also includes foster and kinship care programs," Ronayne said.

The budget also includes a $2.6 million annual increase for the Office of Homeless Services. The funding will primarily go to traditional and seasonal shelters. Ronayne’s goal is to reduce homelessness in the county by 25% by 2027.

"In the shelters, we need to focus on the dignity of the space, the accessibility of the space, proper management of the space," Ronayne said.

Amid all the additions to the budget, Ronayne pointed to some cuts that were made. County Council, which takes Ronayne's suggested budget and amends and ultimately approves it, reduced the annual funding for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board (ADAMHS) by $2.5 million. Ronanye said ADAMHS has a large reserve to help keep its funding levels stable.

Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.