Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court judge seeks millions in county budget to address staffing crisis

Simply not hiring people is the Cuyahoga County administration’s approach to balancing the county budget.

It’s as shortsighted as a family household assuming they can afford the rent if they skip groceries for the month.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley criticized County Executive Armond Budish’s plan to trim personnel costs by omitting unfilled positions from the biennial budget, The Plain Dealer reported on Nov. 1

The Plain Dealer reported:

“‘I will not cede any of the authority of my office,’ O’Malley said during a County Council budget hearing, dismissing Budish’s promises to return funding for hiring if and when the need arises. ‘I don’t know that the executive, or this current executive if he’s re-elected, will maintain that commitment.’”

Budish said the money was removed to avoid cuts to other programs, The Plain Dealer reported. O’Malley said the approach did not make sense and questioned whether the money would truly be restored when the positions needed filled, according to The Plain Dealer. 

The Cuyahoga Juvenile Court faces a similar predicament 

The Plain Dealer reported:

“Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Administrative Judge Thomas O’Malley, of no relation to the prosecutor, did not ask council outright to restore funding for the 64 vacancies he had in July when the budget was created. But he said he has ‘better things to do’ than repeatedly come to council seeking money for positions they’ve already approved.

“The vacancies weren’t his greatest budgetary concern, though.

“He’s requesting $8 million annually, on top of his $60 million-$61 million budget, to also hire 10 more detention officers to help cut down on overtime, cover $1 million-$2 million in regular overtime if positions aren’t filled, keep the center’s healthcare provider and account for his rising operational costs.”

Ignoring problems won’t make them disappear

What is clear is that the budget of Cuyahoga County is a mess. In the end, everyone suffers, especially the young residents at the detention center. 

When county administrators abandoned its workers union at the bargaining table, Laborers Local 860 knew it would be the children and community who would bear the brunt of their foresightedness and mismanagement. Low pay led to staffing shortages, which unleashed outbreaks of violence at the center, including a riot that cost taxpayers $20,000. 

For the safety of everyone involved, court officials must return to the negotiation table and come to a proper agreement with proper union representation for the court employees. 

Sign the petition found at the bottom of our homepage. Tell the Court union representation is the proper course of action, along with better staffing and employee training to keep our children safe.