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Council makes more than $300,000 in budget cuts

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Clay County Council made a large dent the second day of the 2008 Budget Hearing Wednesday.

In total, the council made slightly more than $300,000 in budget cuts. Coupled with Tuesday's cuts of $28,500, the council has eliminated $332,916 from the 2008 proposed budget of $8,062,287. However, the council needs to make a total of $1,104,659 worth of cuts to fit within the tax levy limits.

"It is a long process, but we were able to cut a good chunk out of it," Council President Mike McCullough said.

By far the biggest amount cut was $150,000 out of the Cumulative Capital Development portion of the General Fund for the potential removal of the old jail building.

McCullough said by eliminating this from the budget does not mean the council is ruling out the possibility of tearing down the jail in 2008.

"We can always go back and appropriate the money again, if the funds are available," he said. "It leaves the door open so we could still get quotes or bids. If the $150,000 was in there, the quotes we would receive would be as close to that as possible rather than companies trying to outbid each other."

The council also made an additional $25,000 cut from the same fund for the construction of a metal storage building for the county, leaving $25,000 available for this future project.

"We can still put up a very nice structure at that cost, but we have to make it clear that it is not for public use," Clay County Commissioner Charlie Brown said.

The other big cuts came from the Commissioners' portion of the General Fund.

Out of the $73,000 in total cuts from this section included $15,000 from postage, $8,000 from telephone service and $50,000 from the building insurance portion, which had a proposed $75,000 increase from the 2007 budget amount.

Other cuts made during Wednesday's portion of the 2008 Budget Hearing:

* Cut $10,000 from the Treasurer's estimated budget,

* Cut $8,200 from the Information Services section of the budget,

* A total of $13,966 was cut from the Health, Local Health Management and Tobacco Prevention portions, as some of the budget for these portions may come from grant money,

* Multiple cuts within the Circuit Court budget were made, adding up to $5,250, and

* Out of the Courthouse budget in the General Fund came $19,000. These cuts were from utilities and maintenance portions for the jail, courthouse and extension office.

While the council is only slightly more than 30 percent of the way to making all the cuts needed, they have yet to touch the proposed salaries for county employees.

"What we set out to do is make all the cuts we could to the budget line items first," McCullough said. "Then we will roll back the salary numbers to what they are currently and build up salaries from there, as long as we have the means to do so."

Council members want to give raises where they believed they are deserved, but know they need to be able to have some breathing room for next year.

"We would like to keep some semblance of an operating budget," Council Vice-President Larry Moss said. "It is necessary to have something in the event additional appropriations are needed."

The 2008 budget hearing concludes today with a Council Work Day, starting at 9 a.m., where council members will review proposed salary increases and make additional cuts to meet the county's budget needs.

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