The Greene County Commissioners and Sheriff Gene Fischer have had a rough relationship for the last several years, as the Sheriff's budget is often the target of cuts and debates among the Commission members. Having the largest share of the County expenditures, the Sheriff and the Commission ends up being at odds over expenditures and especially over cuts proposed to his budget in the last two years.
In a recent controversial public statement made to Dayton Daily News, Fischer called the Commission's approach to county finances and the new budgeting framework a "Three-card Monte financial shell game." He insisted that the Commission is "sitting on a lot of money" while pointing out that the Sheriff's department had to cut 27 employees and has a budget that was cut by $1.8 million since the end of 2008.
Things came to a boil between the Sheriff's department and the Commission after comments made by Commissioners in recent meetings indicated even further cuts to county budgets, which would most likely again affect the Sheriff's department negatively.
The comments coming from Fischer seem to be getting attention as the County Commissioners have been at the center of several controversial financial decisions in the recent months. Just two weeks ago the Ohio auditor's office ordered the Commission to repay over $66,000 to the Greene County Law Library Association. The County also sued Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner over the limitation of awarding contracts to contractors making political contributions over $10,000 to county politicians. Worse yet, the Commission filed a lawsuit against First Frontier Inc., the company that produced the Blue Jacket outdoor drama for an unpaid loan of $250,000.
The Commission is failing to explain many of these financial decisions, and County administrator Howard Poston said that "the budgeting framework had changed last year," explaining why the county has over $7 million leftover from the previous year. Fischer disagreed and said that any "leftover" funds should be given back to citizens paying the taxes.
County Commissioner Alan Anderson said that the recommendations for the new budgeting method come from "very smart people" and that he would not question all the "experts and intelligent people."