The county’s Budget Committee voted last week to hold a workshop Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Washington County Courthouse. County Mayor Joe Grandy said the meeting will provide members of the Budget Committee and other interested commissioners with what he termed as a bird’s-eye view of county finances.
Washington County commissioners will officially begin their work to draft a new county budget later this week.
The process begins Thursday when the county’s Budget Committee holds a workshop at 4 p.m. at the Washington County Courthouse. County Mayor Joe Grandy said the meeting will provide Budget Committee members and other interested commissioners with what he termed as a bird’s-eye view of county finances.
“We will be putting on an informational session to talk about total county finances,” Grandy told the committee members last week. “We will be showing you what it looks like from 20,000 feet and 50,000 feet, and what we will be gnawing into over the next few months.”
The meeting will be the first of a number of budget workshops the County Commission will hold before setting a budget for the new fiscal year, which will begin on July 1. Commissioners approved a rule change in November that mandates such meetings be held before the board votes on a new budget.
Commission Chairman Greg Matherly noted last week that the board may be a bit slow in coming out of the gates in meeting that requirement, telling the Budget Committee that such a gathering could have been set in January. He said the real work on the budget will begin after March 1.
That’s the deadline for county officials to submit their proposed new budgets to Mitch Meredith, the county’s director of finance and administration.
Matherly said commissioners would like the opportunity to hear from those county officials and review their original budget proposals before revisions are made.
“There’s a lot to digest,” Matherly said. “Commissioners would like to have an opportunity to take a closer look.”
Commissioners will have have their first opportunity for a closer look at the budget proposals of various departments when they meet on March 16 at 6 p.m. in a workshop at the George P. Jaynes Justice Center.
During initial discussion of the new budget last week, commissioners noted it would be a good idea to give county officeholders and department heads some direction on salary increases in the new fiscal year. Commissioner Kenneth Huffine told Budget Committee members to establish “guardrails” or guidelines to help county officials to navigate pay hike requests for employees.
Commissioner Jim Wheeler also suggested county officials provide commissioners with some context and justification for specific requests for wage increases for positions in their proposed budgets.
Grandy said salary issues have been mounting since the pandemic and courthouse officials are looking at pay increases in terms of what is needed to “keep our key employees.”