’09 budget for new county government will increase | ParkRecord.com

’09 budget for new county government will increase

Plans meant to brace Summit County against economic recession have kicked in as officials struggle to balance bigger demand with less money. But they do not envision tax hikes.

Talks will continue Monday in Coalville where $6 million was already slashed from nearly $52 million in proposed spending next year. A balanced budget must be approved in December.

"We have gone to the departments and said there is no money, cut your budgets and tell us what you can live with, and what you can’t live with," Frazier said in a telephone interview. "We think we’ve pared the budgets back to good realistic numbers without impacting employees’ ability to perform, without impacting their livelihood and without impacting the taxpayers."

The budget for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and other public safety will increase in 2009.

"The public safety budget is increasing almost 10 percent," Frazier said. "They’ve had increases the last four years of probably about 15 or 16 percent, so they are down a bit."

Still, budget officials denied requests for three new Sheriff’s Office employees due to a hiring freeze.

"We’re doing a no-employee recommendation, so [Sheriff Dave Edmunds] did not get his three employees," Frazier said.

Money for travel and training for deputies was cut 50 percent and 70 percent was hacked from their budget for new equipment.

"It doesn’t mean we’re sending them out there with inefficient tools, we’re just postponing replacement of some things and acquiring some new things for another year," Frazier said.

Budgets for public safety include deputies, jail operations, emergency dispatchers, search and rescue, animal control, the fire warden and ambulances.

"It’s a big department," Frazier said.

New government costs more

Supporters claimed expanding the Summit County Commission to a five-member board and hiring someone to begin managing the government next year would not increase costs for taxpayers.

But paying for five councilpersons, a county manager, assistant county manager, administrative assistants and an economic development specialist could increase spending by more than 35 percent.

Nearly $800,000 has been tentatively earmarked for the County Council and manager in 2009.

Meanwhile, once believed by some as mostly recession proof, sales-tax coffers in Summit County are dependent on tourism and could suffer this season.

"I don’t think we’re cutting any services back," Frazier said. "The thing that we can’t do is increase any services."

Nonessential road repairs went from $8 million to about $2.5 million in 2009.

"Our maintenance and snowplowing is still at the same level it has been," Frazier stressed. "Our roads are maintained very well and cleaned very well in the winter, and we’re not going to impact that at all."

Spending next year in most departments will increase by about two percent, he said.

"I think all departments have been treated very fairly. We know we’re not in real good times, but we haven’t wanted to put that impact back on our employees," Frazier said. "Everyone needs to understand that we cannot increase programs and services every year. It just isn’t reality."

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