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Chapter 701: Cuyahoga County Financial Policies

Section 701.01 Two-Year Budget, Capital Improvements and Appropriations Process 

The policy for adopting the operating budget and the capital improvements program for Cuyahoga County is established as follows:

  1. The biennium for Cuyahoga County shall extend from January 1 of each even numbered year through December 31 of the following odd-numbered year.
  2. The County Executive may perform any of the duties required in this section through his/her duly authorized designees.
  3. Not later than at the first County Council meeting in October of each odd-numbered year, the County Executive shall submit to Council a proposed operating budget and capital improvements program for biennium beginning January 1 of the year following submission. The materials submitted shall include all information required by Section 2.03, Subsections 9, 10, and 11 of the Cuyahoga County Charter.
  4. Not later than at the first County Council meeting in November of each even-numbered year, the County Executive shall submit to Council a report, updating the information provided in Subsection (C) above for the biennium. If the report includes changes to the budget or capital improvements program, the County Executive shall submit appropriate legislation along with the report.
  5. The County Council shall review, amend as needed, and adopt the biennial operating budget and capital improvements program and make all necessary appropriations not later than December 15th of each odd-numbered year.
  6. This section shall not alter any obligation placed on any County agency, department, board or commission by the Ohio Revised Code relative to the submittal of its budget in a manner that differs from the process described in this section.

(Ordinance Nos. O2014-0004, Enacted 4/22/2014, Effective 4/23/2014; O2011-0036, Enacted 9/13/2011, Effective 9/14/2011)

Section 701.02 Capital Improvements Policy

  1. In order to protect the County’s capital assets and effectively plan for future improvements, the Fiscal Officer shall maintain a master listing of all County capital assets and shall develop and implement written procedures to define the County’s universe of capital assets and to ensure that all changes in County capital assets are documented in the master listing. The initial listing shall be completed no later than December 31, 2014. Any additions to or deletions from the list of capital assets shall be reflected in the listing no later than 30 days after the change occurs. Any descriptive information regarding each of the capital assets shall be updated at least annually.
  2. The Office of Budget and Management in cooperation with the Department of Public Works shall maintain a Capital Improvements Plan, which shall include a list of projects intended to be initiated during the current biennium, along with the estimated cost and intended funding sources for each project, and a list of projects planned to be initiated during each of the next five years following the current biennium. The Plan shall recommend a level of capital improvements spending during the Plan’s time frame that is consistent with long term cost-effectiveness.
  3. Priority shall be given to capital improvements that will enhance the County’s ability to provide high quality, cost-effective direct services.
  4. The County shall commit to capital improvements that are within its capability to finance through short and long term resources. In making financing decisions on a capital project, the County shall consider both the ability to meet debt service obligations and the ability to meet ongoing direct service requirements.
  5. To the extent possible, consistent with the prioritization of capital improvements based on need, the County shall prioritize projects that offer the greatest opportunities to leverage resources through intergovernmental programs, public/private partnerships, and service charges or user fees.

(Ordinance Nos. O2014-0012, Enacted 6/10/2014, Effective 7/16/2014; O2014-0004, Enacted 4/22/2014, Effective 4/23/2014; O2011-0036, Enacted 9/13/2011, Effective 9/14/2011)

Section 701.03 Debt Management Policy

  1. The County shall adhere to the requirements of general law regarding the types of debt instruments that may be issued, and any debt issued shall be within the direct and indirect debt limitations of the State of Ohio at the time of issuance.
  2. The Fiscal Officer shall actively monitor the potential impact of financial market conditions on the cost effectiveness of the County’s debt financing and may consult with the County’s Investment Advisory Committee on decisions related to the County’s debt portfolio.  
  3. The Capital Improvements Plan provided for in Section 701.02 (B) shall include a plan covering the types of debt and timing of issuances intended to be used in financing the improvements proposed in the plan.
  4. To the extent within our its control, the County shall consistently and on an ongoing basis endeavor to obtain the best possible ratings for its debt instruments.  
  5. The Fiscal Officer shall prepare and publish an Annual Information Statement to provide current financial, economic, and demographic information about the County to investors, rating agencies, and the public.

(Ordinance No. O2014-0012, Enacted 6/10/2014, Effective 7/16/2014)

Section 701.04 Requests for New Programs or Services Requiring an Additional Appropriation

Any requests for new programs or services that require an additional appropriation as a part of the biennial budget process or throughout the fiscal year shall include the following information and sections as part of the request for Council’s consideration by the requesting department, board, agency, commission or other authority:

  1. Program or service overview – detailing the request for additional appropriation
  2. Program or service budget – itemize expenses related to personnel, other operating and capital outlays
  3. Program or service Milestones/Timeline – outline the program or service’s goals and objectives as well as key performance measures in order to ensure these goals or objectives are met
  4. Program or service Staffing Levels – document the projected staffing levels required for the program or service including titles and  salary and benefits

The requirements of this section shall also apply to existing programs or services only if there is a major expansion or shift in policy to existing programs or services but does not apply to additional appropriations that do not expand the goals or objectives of existing programs or services.  

(Ordinance No. O2014-0013, Enacted 6/24/2014, Effective 7/28/2014)

Section 701.05 Advance Notice of Proposed Compensation Changes

  1. In order to provide for a more consistent approach to compensation and benefits for County employees, the County’s policy shall be to request any Cuyahoga County department, office, agency, court, board, commission or other authority to which biennial budget appropriations are made provide thirty (30) days prior written notice to the Clerk of Council of any planned pay rate adjustments, cost of living adjustments, and/or merit pay awards applicable to all or a significant part of its non-bargaining employees. This provision shall not apply to any such adjustments and/or awards that have been specifically provided for in the biennial budget then in effect. 

(Ordinance No. O2013-0023, Enacted 7/8/2014, Effective 8/13/2014)

Section 701.06 Investment Policy

  1. The Fiscal Officer shall publish on its website the County’s written investment policies, as established and revised by the Investment Advisory Committee.
  2. The County Treasurer shall conduct an ongoing analysis of the performance of the County’s investment portfolio against the County’s investment objectives, policies, procedures, and generally recognized performance benchmarks and shall use this analysis to better align the County’s investments with the objectives, policies, and procedures and to improve performance against recognized benchmarks, consistent with safety and liquidity.  The County Treasurer shall refer any recommendations for investment policy changes resulting from portfolio performance analysis to the Investment Advisory Committee and shall send a copy to County Council.

(Ordinance No. O2014-0021, Enacted 10/14/2014, Effective 11/14/2014)

Section 701.07 Financial Reporting

  1. Not later than March 31st of each year of the year, the Office of Budget and Management shall prepare, publish, and submit to Council a public presentation on the budget, which shall include the following:
    1. An overview of County operations, programs, and finances reflecting prior year results and projections for the current year and one or more future years;
    2. A presentation of key financial schedules;
    3. A presentation of reserves on General Fund balance, describing each item and the likelihood that funds set aside for each item will actually need to be expended;
    4.  A detailed description of the budget process;

    5. An analysis of County revenues;

    6. A description of the various fund types used in budgeting;
    7. Prior year results and current year goals on departmental performance measurement;
    8.  Program budgets for each department, office, or agency;

    9. A description of the Capital Improvements Plan;

    10. A list of the County’s outstanding debt obligations and discussion of the County’s debt management plan;

    11. The list of outstanding loans made by the County, as provided for in Subsection E of this section; and

    12. A brief overview of the most important aspects of the Biennial Operating Budget, presented so as to be easily understood and available as a separate document.

      The budget presentation made in the second year of the biennium may be a summary of changes to the information required above, rather than a full report.

  2. Not later than 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter, the Office of Budget and Management shall prepare, publish, and submit to Council a quarterly financial report, which shall include the following:
    1.  A presentation of key financial schedules, including reserves on General Fund balance;  

    2. A schedule of expenditures to date compared to budget for all departments, agencies, and other accounts within the General Fund and the Health and Human Services Levy Fund;

    3. An update of projected revenues and expenses for the General Fund, the Health and Human Services Levy Fund, and all funds combined;  

    4. A list of bonds, notes, or other obligations of the County that expired, are new obligations, or were refinanced or restructured during the quarter; and

    5. A discussion of likely impacts of actual and potential revenue and expenditure variations from the  budget plan, including an update of changes, if any, to the presentation of reserves on General Fund balance provided for in Subsection 701.07(A)(3) above.

  3. The Office of Budget and Management shall prepare, publish, and submit to Council a monthly financial report not later than fifteen (15) days after the end of each month, which shall be a brief narrative regarding any of the following that may have occurred during the preceding month:
    1. Changes to the County’s overall revenue and/or expense projections or to any major individual revenue or expense item;
    2. Significant changes to the performance of any department or agency relative to its budget;
    3. Any significant unexpected revenue or expense obligation; and
    4. Changes to the projected performance of the County’s General Fund and/or Health and Human Services Levy Fund against its reserve target.
  4. The Fiscal Officer, County Treasurer, and the Investment Advisory Committee shall provide Council a copy of any investment reports generated through its office or committee.
  5. The Office of Budget and Management, in coordination with the Department of Development and other County agencies, as needed, shall maintain and publish annually by March 31st of each year a list of all outstanding loans made by the County, including the amount, interest rate, and term of each loan and the amount of each loan that may be forgivable, if any. The Office of Budget and Management shall determine a written process for determining a reasonable and prudent portion of the total loan amount to hold in reserve against nonpayment of loans or the exercise of forgivable loan provisions. This reserve amount shall be reported as a reserve on balance against the General Fund, and it shall be updated at least quarterly with respect to new loans and at least annually with respect to the status of existing loans.
  6. The county shall use best efforts to ensure timely completion of its work for the county’s external audit to enable the external audit to be completed and filed by the next September 30th following each calendar year.
  7. The Fiscal Officer shall post all reports required to be published under this section on his/her website. Such posting shall be the primary means of publication, but the Fiscal Officer may provide printed copies as needed. Reports required to be sent to Council may be sent electronically to the Clerk of Council, who shall send them to the members of Council.

(Ordinance No. O2014-0021, Enacted 10/14/2014, Effective 11/14/2014)

Section 701.08 Financial Management Operations

  1. The General Operating Fund may be used for any County funded activity, including health and human services.
  2. In order to assist County departments and agencies to make effective resource allocation decisions, the Office of Budget and Management shall make recommendations regarding expenditure options. In making such recommendations, OBM shall consider but not be limited to options that meet one or more of the following priority objectives:
    1. Provides services required by law, administrative regulation, court order, or current contractual agreement;
    2. Provides services required to ensure public safety and welfare;
    3. Supports efficient delivery of essential public services at current or expanded levels; 
    4. Promotes effective management control of resources;
    5. Required to preserve a facility or protect a county asset;
    6. Results in cost reductions in the current and/or future years or reduces the need for other costly County services; and
    7. Leverages significant funding from sources other than local County funds.
  3. Departments and agencies are expected to submit requests for additional personnel as part of the biennial budget process or the budget review prior to the second year of the biennium, in order not to create obligations prior to budget review.  Personnel levels authorized in the budget for departments and agencies with more than fifty (50) full-time equivalent staff shall be considered an average for the year, provided that the staffing level is not managed so as to carry staffing above the authorized level into a subsequent year.
  4. OBM shall monitor the County budget on an ongoing basis and submit legislation to Council to authorize any increases or decreases in appropriations, transfers between budget accounts, and cash transfers, except that OBM may, without legislation, make budget transfers that are within both the same index code and object code. OBM shall submit to Council any budget adjustments needed to ensure that all County funds meet requirements set forth in general law regarding positive fund balances, sufficiency of resources, and appropriation authority for expenditures.
  5.  OBM may decertify funds remaining in any encumbrance that has been inactive for over one year and is more than one year past the expiration of any contract related to that encumbrance, and OBM may submit budget amendments to Council to reduce appropriations by the amounts decertified.
  6. Any increase or decrease in appropriation, transfer between budget accounts, and/or cash transfer initiated by Council outside of the biennial budget or second year budget update process shall be submitted to OBM by the Clerk of Council prior to introduction.
  7. The Fiscal Officer shall certify that sufficient funds are available for all expenditures as provided in general law. Such certification shall be made prior to expenditure of funds, except that in exceptional circumstances, certification may be made through the “then and now” process authorized in general law.

(Ordinance No. O2014-0033, Enacted 12/9/2014, Effective 1/14/2015)

Section 701.09 Long-Term Planning and Stabilization

  1. OBM shall proactively monitor projected revenues and expenses, using a forecasting horizon of five (5) years or longer, and shall promptly report to the County Executive and Council any conditions or trends that threaten the County’s ability to maintain General Fund and Health and Human Services Levy Fund reserves at or above the thresholds provided in Chapters 706 and 707.  Except during a sudden financial emergency, such reports may be made as part of the regular financial reporting provided for in Section 701.07.
  2. The County Executive and Council shall conduct a Reserve Stabilization Planning Process whenever any of the following occur:
    1. The reserve percentage reaches twenty-six percent (26%) or less in the General Fund or eleven (11%) or less in the Health and Human Services Levy Fund; or
    2. The Executive, OBM, or Council identifies trends reasonably expected to bring the General Fund and/or the Health and Human Services Levy Fund reserves below its reserve threshold with one year; or  
    3. There is an excess of operating expenses over revenues, net of one-time expenditures, in the General Fund or the Health and Human Services Levy fund of more than three percent (3%) in any fiscal year; or 
    4. The Executive and Council for any other reason agree to do so.
  3. When conducting a Reserve Stabilization Planning Process, the County Executive and Council shall, within four (4) months after Subsection (B) of this section is triggered:
    1. Prepare a plan for the affected fund(s) to ensure long term structural balance and maintain or restore the reserve percentage at or above its reserve threshold; and
    2. Include in the plan a process for ongoing monitoring and revision of the plan, as needed.

(Ordinance No. O2014-0033, Enacted 12/9/2014, Effective 1/14/2015)