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County mulls cuts to balance budget

April 04, 2001

County mulls cuts to balance budget



By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Washington County is considering a balanced budget that would cut $1.6 million from the county schools' allocation next year, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said Tuesday.

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The balanced budget proposal would also shave $50,000 from the Sheriff's Department's budget request for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Shoop said he and Budget and Finance Director Debra Bastian are preparing the balanced budget proposal at the commissioners' request and will present their suggestions at the commissioners' April 10 meeting.

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Shoop said that if the County Commissioners vote to balance the budget, the Board of Education and the Sheriff will have to determine where to cut their planned expenditures.

"That would be unfortunate for our education system," Board of Education member Roxanne Ober said. Some of the increases in the Board of Education's budget projection are unavoidable, such as fuel prices and negotiated teacher salary increases, Ober said.

The current budget proposal for next year fully funds the county Board of Education's projected operating costs at $69.8 million, which is $6 million, or 9.4 percent, more than the current year's budget of $63.8 million.

If the commissioners vote to adopt the preliminary balanced budget proposal at their April 10 or April 17 meeting, they will hold a public hearing May 8 on the proposal, Shoop said.

The current budget proposal shows a $1.7 million shortfall. Washington County projects $131 million in expenses, but only $129 million in revenues next fiscal year.

The projected shortfall was originally $700,000, but the commissioners voted to add another $1 million to the budget proposal to fund capital improvement projects, Shoop said.

At this point last year in the budget process, the commissioners had to deal with a $6 million shortfall. The budget was eventually balanced with cuts and tax hikes.

Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said he was not prepared Tuesday to try to find $1.7 million in cuts. He suggested using county department heads' help instead to find places to make cuts.

"If we tell them to make more (cuts), they will make more," Iseminger said.

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