A Look Back at Armond Budish's First Year as Cuyahoga County Executive
by Nick Castele
This week marks the end of Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish’s first year in office. Budish began the year promising to support businesses and address the needs of the county’s poorest citizens. But soon, he was issuing warnings about the state of county finances.
In his inaugural address last January, Democrat Armond Budish said he’d help new businesses grow. And he said he would do better at connecting people who need social services with jobs.
“We are rich and, yes, we are also poor,” Budish said at the time. “We have magnificent pockets of natural beauty and unconscionable pockets of poverty and foreclosure-devastated neighborhoods. Yet our fortunes are linked.”
But it wasn’t long before Budish was talking about the county’s limitations. He said publicly funded downtown projects had left the county with little financial room for more big, expensive undertakings.
“We may not be able to do everything that we have done in the past,” he said on 90.3’s the Sound of Ideas. “We may have to be much more selective. And again, we can't do anything unless we find money in the budget, because right now we're pretty much at our actual limit.”
And sure enough, in June, his administration scuttled a $21 million emergency operations center project, just months after breaking ground on it. In his budget for the next two years, Budish cut more than $7 million from MetroHealth Medical Center.
The final budget approved last month also includes money for combatting infant mortality and demolishing vacant houses—as well as a pared-down version of a fund to help startups and other local businesses.
“We’re very excited that we’ve been able to fashion a way to fund job initiatives, economic development, without borrowing money, which is very critical here, and it’s being done in a sustainable way,” he said in an interview in November.
More decisions await the administration in the New Year. There’s a study underway on whether to move the county justice center. And the county is revisiting how it tries to recoup delinquent property taxes, after a study criticized the practice.