The Washington County Budget Committee has officially committed to passing a balanced budget with the intention of also providing raises for county employees and with no property tax increase.
The committee has intended all along to work toward presenting a balanced budget on to the full commission but those intentions were formalized Thursday morning. As it currently stands, the proposed budget is about $1.3 million in the red not including the school system’s request of $1.6 million for its unbalanced budget.
“Looking at this there doesn’t seem to be any reason why we shouldn’t propose a balanced budget this year,” Commissioner Joe Grandy said.
Grandy also said he would like the budget to include some kind of raise for the county employees. Just what kind of raise the commissioners hope to provide is still indefinite.
“I don’t know if I’m prepared today to cast in stone a percentage but I do think that it would be prudent to this committee to look at the CPI over the period of time since the last raise,” Mayor Dan Eldridge told the committee.
Eldridge said it has been about three years since the employees’ last pay raise. Conversations of employee raises later led to discussions about the need for reform in the county’s compensation plan.
“I think that one of the things we all recognize is that we are behind when it comes to compensation plan, being competitive in the marketplace. Yeah, we’ve got great benefits but you know, folks don’t always consider the value of those benefits. It’s not that they don’t appreciate it, they just don’t recognize the dollar value of it,” Eldridge said.
The committee will begin reviewing departmental budgets Monday at 9 a.m. and will also meet Tuesday and Wednesday, also at 9 a.m.
“We’ve got a beginning point that I think we’ve discussed here today,” Eldridge told the committee. “I would like for us to sit down with each of the department heads and talk to determine the things in their budgets that are inflation issues, that need to be escalated, plug those into our number.”