A little bit goes a long way.
The Clay County Council began budget hearings for 2009 Tuesday afternoon, focusing on making cuts in supplies and other services and charges.
"We always try to save the discussion of salaries until the end," Council President Mike McCullough. "That is where we typically make the biggest cuts as most offices request a straight increase of 5 or 10 percent for their employees."
Entering the day, nearly $1.2 million needed to be cut from the 2009 proposed budget to be under the county's estimated tax levy for next year. They were able to quickly eliminate $276,255 because of anticipated income from other sources.
"The Cumulative Capital Development Debt and Mental Health incomes come from outside of property tax dollars," Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said.
Left with $919,139 to cut, the council went to work reviewing budget requests in comparison to the amount of expenses during the last two years.
In total, the council was able to cut $23,309 in supplies and services, with the bulk coming from reducing the salary for the Brazil Township Assessor from $15,000 to $1.
"With the position being eliminated when the term ends, the assessor also requested the full salary of this employee in the reassessment fund," McCullough said. "Even though the term ends in 2010, we could cut it down like we did and still maintain the full $1,000 the individual receives for having Level II certification. While salaries are usually analyzed at the end of budget hearings, we were able to look at this one today."
Another $5,810 was cut from the Circuit Court budget, mainly due to expenses being not as much as expected in a number of categories.
In all, the council reviewed budgets for Circuit and Superior courts, Public Defender, Recorder, Surveyor, Assessor/Reassessment/Brazil Township Assessor and the E-911 Administration. Also, due to a conflict in scheduling, the council reviewed the budgets for Adult and Juvenile Probation Fees and its General Fund, which had been set to take place this afternoon.
The total amount of requests added up to $4,495,394 and the county is estimating the 2009 tax levy to be approximately $3.3 million. With the cuts made Tuesday, the council still has to drop nearly $900,000 in budget requests in the next two days.
"This is pretty standard for where we sit after the first day," McCullough said.
McCullough said the biggest portion of cuts today could come from the Sheriff's/Jail and Commissioners funds.
"There are a lot of line items in those two portions alone," he said. "The Sheriff has requested for three new deputies and three new jailers in his proposed budget alone. We would like to be able to approve that, but we have to see where we sit after reviewing all the other items before tackling staffing and salaries."
Wednesday's budget hearings begin at 9 a.m., in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.