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Board begins planning for new year county budget

Lincoln County supervisors received their initial financialprojections for their districts Tuesday during the first workshopto produce a budget for a new fiscal year that starts inOctober.

Departmental budgets and appropriations will be determinedlater, said County Administrator David Fields. The county is stillwaiting for some departments to submit their requests for theupcoming year.

However, Fields said growth in appraised value on property andan $86,000 reduction in Lincoln County Schools funding may allowthe county to pass another year without a tax hike.

“Everyone is pretty much staying the way they were,” hesaid.

The increase in property values and reduction in school fundingshould offset several areas that could possibly have become abudget burden, Fields said.

Supervisors lamented the rise in many of the base materials thecounty uses. Utilities, fuel, insurance premiums and pavingmaterials, among others, have all increased in cost or are expectedto increase.

In addition, the county purchased the city’s half of the LincolnCounty Multi-Use Facility earlier this year and must now budget thepurchase, employee wages, utilities and other expenses of thebuilding for the first time. The facility is eventually expected tobecome self-sufficient, but the board must supplement its budgetuntil that time.

The board also discussed adjustments each supervisor must makein his district to compensate for the loss of inmate work crews.The work crews aided supervisors by picking up litter along countyroadways and assisting county road crews on paving and otherprojects.

A majority of the supervisors said the loss of the inmates wouldslow down their project speeds. They said it might also mean morelitter along the roadways because they would not be able to sparethe men for that work to the extent that the inmates were doing thejob.

“They were very helpful to us and I hate to see them go,” saidBoard President Gary Walker.

District Three Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson said he wouldtalk with Sheriff Wiley Calcote about the possibilities of countyinmates taking over those duties and janitorial services forseveral agencies once served by inmates.

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson, however, said hisintentions were to hire two more employees to assist road crews.The cost of those salaries would be deducted from his districtfunds, he said.

The loss of state reimbursement at the Lincoln County Jailshould not have a huge effect on the county budget, Fields said.The jail budget falls within the sheriff’s department funding andcurrent predictions are to approve that budget at the same level aslast year.

The county received more than $121,000 in reimbursement fromMDOC in 2005 for housing state inmates, approximately 20 percent ofthe jail’s $585,000 budget for the year, Fields said.

However, the jail will have no state inmates in the next year tofeed and less associated medical bills, he said. The decline inpopulation may also require fewer indoor jailers and, with no stateinmate work crews, should require fewer deputies serving assupervisors on work crews.

“I don’t know what the net effect of the inmates’ removal willbe,” Fields said.

Ultimately, the administrator said, those will be decisions madeby the sheriff when he determines how to distribute hisfunding.