County spending down to match revenue
Decreased spending to match decreased revenue was the new budget battle plan for the Summit County Council as they conducted the mid-year budget review last Wednesday. With job openings to be filled and service levels to maintain, the council is adjusting to a smaller revenue stream.
The biggest decrease comes from building and permit fees. With less revenue coming in, the council is trying to cut spending down to a base they can grow from. Layoffs, no pay raises, and a significantly tighter budget may allow the county to make it through 2011 without borrowing from ‘rainy day funds,’ such as the $1 million that was taken from the tax stability fund in 2010.
"The tax stability fund was set up exactly for this purpose, to use in hard times," said County Manager Bob Jasper. "We were authorized to use $3 million from the fund and only needed $1 million. We are in better shape this year because we are bringing our spending down to match revenue."
The county’s budget is currently being helped by 12 unfilled positions that are being examined very closely before hiring is done. Some positions won’t be filled until the need arises.
"We cut positions in the Recorder’s office because property records are down and people can use computers instead of having to come into the office," said County Council Chairman Chris Robinson. "We can only cut back so far in certain departments like building. We have an unfilled chief building official position, and while that isn’t needed immediately, we don’t want to sacrifice expertise when suddenly one is needed."
Other open positions, like those in dispatch, the county is hoping to fill soon in order to maintain service levels. "I don’t think we can cut much deeper we need a certain amount of people to answer phones and maintain roads," said Robinson.
According to the auditor’s budget report, the top three areas of decreased funds are recorder fees, ambulance fees and waste disposal fees. "With the new hospital open, the county no longer has the income from driving people down the valley," said Jasper.
The council is already thinking about the 2012 budget, and with its new grasp on spending, Jasper said he is optimistic, "Things are getting better, they are just slowly getting better."
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