County Budget Committee Turns Down Several 2010-11 Requests

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

Having gone through the process of hearing all of the budget requests from the different county departments and agencies, the Budget Committee of the Cannon County Commission began its final review of the proposals Thursday night.

Based upon the review by the committee, it is unlikely every county department or agency will receive all of the money they are seeking, although the ultimate decision will be in the hands of the full county commission.

In addition, the requests presented include a three percent pay raise for county employees, and it has yet to be determined if there will be enough money available to make that possible.

Entering Thursday's meeting the proposed County General Budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 shows estimated revenues of $5,064,178 and projected expenses of $6,209,881.

The first proposed budget to get pared by the budget committee's knife Thursday was that of the Cannon County Ambulance Service. Director Ricky Cope is seeking $114,153 more for Medical Personnel to pay for an additional crew. The sentiment expressed by budget committee members Chairman Mark Barker, commissioners Greg Mitchell and Kevin George and citizen representative Bill Jennings was that it is not affordable at this point to increase staffing.

The sheriff's department is seeking a nearly $100,000 budget increase, the majority of it for increases in employee salaries, wages, overtime pay and benefits. The committee made some minor downward suggestions to those budget line items.

During the discussion of the proposed budget for the sheriff's office, Fifth District Commissioner Bob Stoetzel questioned why there were line items and salary figures listed for the positions of Chief Deputy and Sergeant(s) when there were currently no persons filling those positions and there are no plans to do so.

The committee decided to move the money the sheriff proposed setting aside for those positions to another line item in the sheriff's budget, that of Deputy(es).

(EDITOR'S NOTE: During the discussion of the sheriff's budget, this reporter and Stoetzel got into a heated verbal exchange after I blurted out for Stoetzel — who was sitting behind me — to "hush" when he interrupted me while I was attempting to ask Chairman Barker a question. We continued our heated dialogue following the meeting. I apologize to the members of the committee and those in attendance for my part in the activity.)

Other major budget increase requests the committee recommended trimming or eliminating Thursday included:

• That of Fire Prevention and Control, which is seeking an additional $252,000 for Motor Vehicles ($200,000) and Other Equipment (including pumper/SCBA Bottles).

• Funding a $40,000 salary for the Supervisor/Director of Cannon County Emergency Management.

Also considered or recommended by the committee Thursday:

• The Cannon County Senior Center requested a $15,000 contribution from the county, up from $4,000 this year, but the committee suggested $6,500.

• Cannon County SAVE, which provides services to victims of domestic violence, desires a $10,000 contribution from the county. The committee will forward the request to the full commission.

• The budget requests of the County Executive Office and the Election Commission Office were trimmed slightly.

• Left relatively unchanged were the requests from the Adams Memorial Library System, the Parks and Fair Boards (Community Center), Agricultural Extension Office and Veteran's Services.

The budget committee will meet again next Thursday at the courthouse to continue its final review process. A special meeting of the Cannon County Commission will be called in June to finalize the budget.