A day after Hamilton County Commissioners defeated a budget veto to keep $900,000 in commission discretionary funds, they learned that money can't be spent at county schools.
County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said late Thursday the state comptroller's office notified the county of an attorney general opinion that says general fund money can't be spent toward education.
"The attorney general's opinion basically states that county funds cannot be spent over and above the educational tax levy," Taylor said. "Any above that can't be authorized."
Hamilton County Commission Chairman Jim Fields declined to comment on the matter, saying discussions between Taylor and the commission fell under attorney-client protections.
Commissioners have spent millions of dollars in discretionary money on schools or school property since the discretionary fund practice started in 1981.
A Times Free Press review showed in 2014, $562,926 of the $1.6 million spent - or 35 percent of the money - went toward school athletics or public parks. Only $201,900, or 12.6 percent, went toward books, classroom technology or county educational programs. That year, 13.9 percent, or $223,300 went to public safety programs.
So far this year, 42 percent of the $706,852 spent went toward school athletics or recreation, 16.5 percent went to education and 31 percent went to public safety.