06/09/09 — Commission will hear comments on budget plan

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Commission will hear comments on budget plan

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 9, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners Wednesday morning will begin the task of wading through the county's $157.6 million budget proposal. The review will begin at 10 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

A second session, if needed, would be held Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, at 10:30 a.m. Both will be held in the commissioners' meeting room.

The workshop are open to the public. A copy of the budget proposal is available for inspection at County Manager Lee Smith's office and online at www.waynegov.com.

The budget must be adopted by July 1.

The proposal keeps the current tax rate of 76.4 cents per $100 valuation despite being some 3.2 percent less than the current budget.

Revenue from property taxes account for $48.6 million, about 71 percent, of the general fund revenue base of $68.9 million.

Taking the hardest hit are sales tax revenues expected to be down by about $3.6 million. The decrease is attributed to the economic slowdown and the state taking Article 44 sales tax revenues in exchange for assuming the cost of Medicaid.

There are no salary increases for employees.

However, there are other parts of the budget that will affect employees' health insurance. The deductible will double from $500 to $1,000 and the top two pharmacy co-pays will increase by $5 each.

Some 15 retirees would see their monthly insurance premiums increase from $435 to $550.

The budget also recommends that employees hired after July 1 no longer be eligible for post-retirement benefits.

The budget would continue the county's four-day workweek and practice of not filing vacant job openings unless they are safety related.

Smith has said that leaving the jobs open has reduced the number of county positions by about 110 and has saved the county $14.3 million over the past four years.

Major expenditures in the budget include:

* Public assistance, $21,841,172

* Wayne County Public Schools, current expense, $18,887,994

* Public health, $8,061,278

* Solid Waste Fund, $5,848,053

* Emergency Medical Services, $5,030,886

* Wayne Community College, $3,488,398

* Wayne County Public Schools, capital outlay, $2,000,000

The budget also includes a $9.2 million capital improvement plan. Smith has said that the bulk of the projects relate to safety and operational issues that cannot be ignored

It includes $856,000 for emergency telephone upgrade; $248,660 for elevator upgrades; $2 million for landfill expansion; $420,000 for software upgrade for tax listing/collector; $350,060 for courthouse/annex renovations; and $2.5 million for county schools capital improvements.