Introducing First Budget, Cuyahoga County Executive Warns: 'Our Credit Card Is Maxed Out'
by Nick Castele
The hundreds of millions of public dollars spent on a convention center, hotel and Global Center for Health Innovation have brought big changes to downtown Cleveland—but they’ve put county finances in a tight spot.
County Executive Armond Budish submitted the first two-year budget proposal of his administration to county council this week. And it comes with a warning.
“Things that we would normally borrow for, we can’t borrow anymore. Our credit card is maxed out,” Budish said. “We did a whole lot of really good projects over the last number of years, but most of those were paid for not with cash, but with debt—with bonds.”
MetroHealth, the public hospital, received $40 million last year from the county. Next year, it’ll get around $32 million. The mental health and addiction board will receive less, too.
Still, Budish said he aims to carry out this budget without laying off workers. He said he still hopes to invest in new plans and initiatives, “whether it’s early childhood education, or workforce training or economic development and job creation programs, eliminating—or reducing, at least—infant mortality.”
He said the county is also studying the idea of replacing the downtown Justice Center and jail with new buildings elsewhere—making the previous sites available for new development.
Meanwhile, the county is considering another big project: a proposal to borrow $65 million to pay for upgrades to Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field. That would be paid back with money raised from the alcohol and cigarette tax voters extended in 2014.