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Unicoi Co. Budget Committee makes nearly $155,000 in cuts

August 6th, 2014 1:33 pm by Brad Hicks

Unicoi Co. Budget Committee makes nearly $155,000 in cuts

ERWIN — At the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting of the Unicoi County Commission’s Budget Committee, County Commissioner and Committee Chairman Mickey Hatcher urged fellow commissioners to work at making a dent in the budgetary shortfall the county is currently facing.

Around two hours later, commissioners proposed nearly $155,000 in more cuts by looking at a number of items from the proposed 2014-15 fiscal year budgets of several officeholders.

As of Tuesday, the county is facing a shortfall of around $533,000, a figure that takes no fund balance into account. Up to this point, the committee, which has been meeting to prepare the county’s overall budget, has looked at cutting funding to the county’s nonprofit organizations, changes to county employee insurance and asking each of the county’s officeholders to reduce their budget requests by 5 percent.

The committee opened its discussion of county offices Tuesday by looking at the proposed budget for the commission. Committee members present at the meeting proposed $5,000 in cuts from this budget, with $3,000 coming from proposed travel expenses and $2,000 coming from a line item listed in the budget as “other charges.”

It was proposed that $1,300 be cut from the county Board of Equalization’s submitted budget.

The committee also proposed a total of $11,900 in cuts to the budget of the county mayor. It was proposed that $3,000 set aside for part-time help if it is needed should be cut; $2,500 in travel expenses were cut; $3,000 was cut from proposed data-processing expenses; $1,000 for communications was cut; $600 was cut from maintenance and repair; $800 was cut from office supplies; $200 was cut from office equipment; and $500 was trimmed from a line item listed as “other charges.”

A total of $5,000 was cut from the legal services line item under the budget for the county attorney.

More than $10,000 was cut from the proposed budget of the county Election Commission. The committee proposed cutting $3,500 budgeted by the commission for repairs to the sidewalk outside its office. It also cut $5,660 from the $10,660 proposed for travel, cut $500 from projected electricity expenses and cut $500 from the budgeted amount for office supplies.

The committee proposed cuts totaling $5,800 to the county Register of Deeds’ proposed budget. The committee proposed cutting $4,000 from projected travel expenses, $300 from communications costs, $1,000 from projected travel costs, and $500 from office supplies. The committee followed this by proposing $3,000 in cuts to the budget of the Unicoi County Planning Commission.

From the county’s buildings budget, the committee proposed cutting $10,500. It was proposed that $6,000 be removed for maintenance and repair, $1,500 be cut from projected natural gas costs and $3,000 be cut from proposed utilities costs. A total of $2,000 was also cut from the general courthouse administration budget by cutting $1,000 each from duplicating supplies and excess-risk line items.

More significant cuts were proposed for the office of county Property Assessor. There, the committee discussed cuts totaling $52,600. Commissioners said around $39,000 budgeted two years ago for one full-time position within the office is now vacant could be cut. They also proposed trimming $3,000 from project audit services costs, $600 from communications costs, $1,000 from maintenance and repair, $1,000 in postal costs, $1,500 in printed forms costs, $3,000 in proposed travel expenses, $1,500 from office supplies and $2,000 for office equipment.

Big cuts were also proposed to the budget submitted by the office of County Clerk, with this total coming to $42,000. It was proposed that around $35,000, the funding equivalent of one full-time position, be cut. The committee also proposed cutting projected maintenance and repair-related costs by $3,000, travel costs by $500, office supplies by $2,000, data processing by $1,000 and office equipment by $500.

A total of $6,400 in cuts was proposed for the office of county Trustee, with the bulk coming from a proposed reduction of $3,500 from the office’s projected temporary personnel expenditures. Other cuts were proposed for the office’s travel, data processing, communications, legal notices and office-equipment expenses.

Commissioner Loren Thomas said the county could use $180,000 from the contribution it received from Mountain States Health Alliance following MSHA’s acquisition of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital to pay the annual subsidy to MedicOne Medical Response, the county’s ambulance services provider. If this is done and the cuts proposed Tuesday were to be enacted, it would reduce the county’s deficit to around $200,000.

No action was taken on the cuts proposed at Tuesday’s meeting. The committee will meet again Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the County Courthouse. 

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