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Savings plan might save Jefferson County budget

April 08, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- The Jefferson County Commission considered a proposed 2008-09 budget plan Monday that could require an injection of about $2 million in savings.

A vote on the plan could come during the commission's regular Thursday meeting.

The commissioners have been struggling to come up with a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year after realizing they were facing about a $2 million funding shortfall.

Budget meetings have been tense at times and the commission missed a March 28 deadline for submitting a spending plan, although state officials say there is no penalty for going past the deadline.

Under the plan considered Monday, the commission will examine its finances at the close of the current fiscal year, then determine how much savings money might be needed to make next year's budget work, Commissioner Greg Corliss said.

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It could require slightly more than $2 million, he said.

Among the plans in the proposed budget of about $20 million is only funding the county's volunteer fire departments and the Jefferson County Ambulance Authority for a half year.

The commission has talked about implementing a new user fee to make up the rest of the funding demands for the two agencies, although Commissioner Dale Manuel said he thinks that process is going to take longer than the commission first anticipated.

Manuel said he does not like the budget plan because he believes it pushes problems farther ahead and he instead prefers dealing with the issues now.

Manuel said he would like to look at all the county departments and determine how the county can "live within our means."

Manuel said the county got into tight finances after issues like the hiring of 11 new positions and a $260,000 reorganization of the county planning department.

Corliss said the hires that were made were for "legitimate needs."

Corliss said the tough budget process was no surprise and said he thinks people don't realize how difficult it is to run county government.

"I think everyone knew it was going to be tough," Corliss said of the budget process.

One issue the commission has been concerned about is the rising cost of gasoline, and they talked Monday about buying gas in bulk to save money.

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