06/11/13 — Board trims county budget

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Board trims county budget

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 11, 2013 1:46 PM

Close to $500,000 in possible budget cuts, including a 15-percent reduction in commissioner pay, were proposed by Wayne County commissioners during a nine-hour budget workshop Monday.

Professional services and program supplies were the two favored targets for suggested reductions.

However, the potential savings could be offset by the addition of $170,000 for a mobile dental clinic and up to $300,000 for mental health services, both of which were cut by County Manager Lee Smith when he originally prepared his 2013-14 budget recommendation.

Commissioners said they aren't through penny-pinching -- they were only able to wade through 25 of the 65 department budgets that make up the total county budget.

They will resume deliberations Friday at 8 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The majority of the questions Monday about the gross budget of $161 million came from Commissioner Joe Daughtery.

Commissioner Ed Cromartie questioned whether or not Daughtery had additional information that other board members lacked.

Daughtery said he did not, and that he did not consider the suggested cuts as excessive. The suggestions, he said, are based on trends and line-item histories.

Cromartie cautioned against wholesale cuts that could come back to haunt the board in the guise of numerous budget amendments that would skew the budget.

"We want it to be a realistic budget, but we don't want a lot of budget amendments," Commissioner Ray Mayo said. "It drives the budget up."

A public hearing on the budget will be June 18 at 9:30 a.m., and the board will meet in special session June 25 at 9 a.m. to consider adopting the budget.

All of the meetings are open to the public and will be held in the commissioners' meeting room.

Chairman Steve Keen suggested a 15 percent reduction in the $69,516 earmarked for commissioners' salaries, for a savings of $10,427. The reduction also would affect salary-related line items, including Social Security

Keen said that commissioners had asked county departments for lean budgets and that commissioners should abide by that philosophy as well.

Daughtery also suggested reducing the $25,000 budgeted for professional services to $20,000 and program supplies from $11,000 to $9,000.

He initially recommended trimming a total of $10,000 from the $27,700 for travel, meals and lodging and $32,697 for travel allowance. But several commissioners said that money allows them to be able to attend conferences that are important.

Other suggested cuts include:

* Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce from $900 to $800

* County Manager's office: Professional services from $3,000 to $1,000; program supplies from $1,000 to $750; office supplies from $2,250 to $2,150

* Public Affairs: Professional services from $43,000 to $23,000

* Finance: Maintenance and repairs equipment from $64,580 to $59,580; service charges from $25,000 to $15,000; professional services from $94,240 to $89,240; professional services accounting from $129,500 to $121,760; office supplies from $17,669 to $15,169; office supplies non-capital furniture and equipment from $2,000 to $1,500

* Human Resources: Office supplies from $7,000 to $4,500; travel, meals and lodging from $1,000 to $750; postage from $3,800 to $3,000; advertising from $1,000 to $500; rental of copier equipment from $5,000 to $4,000

* Tax Office: Professional services from $115,300 to $50,000; vehicle supplies gas, oil, tires, etc. from $10,000 to $5,000; office supplies non-capital furniture and equipment from $4,000 to $2,500; training from $6,360 to $4,360; debt setoff program expenditures from $1,500 to $500

* Mapping: Professional services from $20,000 to $15,000

* Board of Elections: Salaries and wages extra help from $96,880 to between $30,000 and 35,000; professional services from $50,000 to possibly $30,000

* Information Technology: Professional services from $26,000 to $15,000; non-capital computer equipment from $195,850 to $190,000

* Sheriff's Office: Salaries and wages overtime from $100,000 to $75,000; salaries and wages extra help from $119,520 to $59,520; ammunition from $27,679 to $22,679; ammunition emergency response team from $21,485 to $16,485; office supplies non-capital furniture and equipment emergency response from $37,322 to $26,322; maintenance and repairs equipment from $76,479 to $44,479; maintenance and repairs vehicles, from $204,450 to $199,450

* Jail: Maintenance and repairs equipment from $35,000 to $20,000

* Animal control: Program supplies from $15,500 to $10,000; training from $6,000 to $3,000

The $161 million budget proposal is slightly more than the current $159 million. However, since the start of the current budget year, amendments have increased it to what is anticipated to be a final total of just over $181 million.

A more accurate figure to use is the net budget amount of $120,127,740 compared to the current $121,288,782 -- a reduction of $1,161,042, Smith said.

The differences between the gross and net figures are grants and "pass-through" funds.

The budget proposal would reduce the tax rate from the current 70.25 cents per $100 worth of property value to 67.5 cents.

Also, the landfill tipping fee that would increase from $30 per ton to $31.5 to cover expenses associated with a new electronics recycling program and changes in the overall recycling program.