Despite facing a $4.25 million deficit four months ago, Washington County officials have developed a balanced budget that includes a 3 percent raise for all county employees.
Mayor Dan Eldridge presented the balanced budget to the Budget Committee Friday morning for its consideration with the suggestion that committee members review it and return to the next meeting Wednesday morning prepared to approve a recommendation for the full commission.
“We’ve probably done all that can be done in regards to approaching revenue in the county from a conservative standpoint,” Eldridge said.
The proposed budgeted revenue for the 2011-12 fiscal year is $35,148,018. Last year’s budgeted revenue was $34,225,490. The year’s actual expenses, however, were more than $36.5 million.
The proposed budget includes a reallocation of 6.77 cents from debt service to the general fund, which allows for the budgeted increase.
“The significant things that I think this budget accomplishes for Washington County this year is the fact that number one, its balanced,” Eldridge said. “We are not proposing a tax increase. We are not proposing any employee layoffs. We are not proposing to use fund balance to balance the budget. We have included a 3 percent increase for all employees and we’ve paid down over $3 million in debt. I think these are the goals we set out several months ago and I appreciate everyone’s efforts toward accomplishing this. We have had participation from every department.”
The county had also received a request in May from the county Board of Education for $1.6 million in additional funding. Eldridge said that among other things the shortfall was due to decreased funding from the state and matching funds for a state-approved 3 percent pay increase for each of the system’s employees.
“Over the last few days (Director of Schools Ron) Dykes and I have met, and we have also met with the county’s auditors, looking at exactly where we are in the general fund, looking at where we are in the school’s fund balance and looking at the needs that have to be addressed this year in the school system,” Eldridge said.
Instead of opting to pull monies from the county’s fund balance, Eldridge proposed the school board use its fund balance to fund its needs for this year. The school board will hold a called meeting Tuesday afternoon to decide if this plan will work for them.