Budget Committee Deals With Conflicting Goals

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Members of the Budget Committee of the Cannon County Commission met Thursday night at the courthouse to begin putting the final touches on the budget that will be presented to the full commission for approval later this month.

In formulating the budget for fiscal year 2010-2011, which begins July 1, committee members are attempting to achieve a number of goals, some of which conflict:

• Avoid raising property taxes.

• Give county employees a 3 percent pay raises, which will cost the county an estimated $100,000.

• Avoid dipping too far into the county's General Fund Balance, or "rainy day fund" as it is often called.

• Provide the citizens of Cannon County the services they need, at a fair and reasonable cost.

To achieve the goal of not taking too much from the rainy day fund, the committee again examined the request from the Cannon County Ambulance Service to add another four-person crew.

Committee members agreed that while it would be nice to be able to do so, it would not be fiscally prudent this year. Granting the request would cost approximately $110,000.

All told the committee reviewed over a dozen budget proposals submitted by different county department and agencies Thursday. In the process they trimmed nearly $150,000 from the projected fund deficit for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Relatively small reductions were made to requests from Register of Deeds, County Buildings, Circuit Court Clerk and Judicial Commissioners.

The committee will meet again next Thursday to discuss the Solid Waste and Debt Service budgets. Also yet to be reviewed are the budgets of the school system and highway department.

At the beginning of Thursday's meeting County Executive Mike Gannon made a statement to clarify remarks he made at last week's meeting concerning making working budgets available to the public and media.

"We do not have to give out a copy of the working budget but we always do," Gannon said. "We are as transparent as we can be and go far beyond what many other counties do. I never threatened to not make copies available to anybody who requests one.

"Some counties such as DeKalb and Rutherford do not give out working copies, and some others do. We go beyond what the state required us to do."

Budget Committee Chairman Mark Barker also made a statement to clear up some remarks he made last week about state auditors.

"I take the auditor's findings seriously," Barker said, "and I did not mean to sound as though I didn't. I am glad that the auditors help us to keep everything balanced out. I do not take lightly at all any of their findings."

The county commission will be called into special session on June 26 to review the budget for the next fiscal year, Gannon said.
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