Board approves $15.2M budget

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2008

Compared to last year’s financial blueprint, the new LincolnCounty budget for fiscal year 2009 is $1.5 million bigger, but theincreased revenue will not allow any leeway in county spending.

County supervisors unanimously approved the $15.2 millionspending plan Monday. The new budget features an increase in bothcounty and school district millage rates, with the new amount foreach reaching 49.81 and 50.63, respectively. The total countymillage rate is 100.44, an increase of 3.91 mills over lastyear.

County Administrator David Fields said the increased funding isbasically already spoken for.

“The budget increase is just to meet increased costs – tooperate pretty much where it’s at,” he said. “There’s nothing newthat’s not normal operations really in there.”

Fields said the county is not looking at any new majorpurchases, personnel changes or new positions. The only new projectplanned is the new roof for the Lincoln County Public Library,which will require $150,000 in bond payments.

Other than the library roof payments, Fields said the increasedbudget was necessary to cover increased costs for garbage pickup,higher insurance premiums for county employees and, above all, fuelexpenditures.

Fields said an additional $600,000 was budgeted for garbagepickup to meet increased costs from garbage contractor WasteManagement Inc. Likewise, supervisors also voted to increase countyresidents’ monthly garbage pickup fees from $9.08 to $14, the firstincrease in the rates since 2001.

An additional $500,000 was also included in the general fundbudget to take care of insurance and fuel costs.

“Fuel costs relate to everything out there … from paperclipsto pencils to utility costs,” he said.

Earlier this year, as fuel costs began rising above anticipatedamounts, several county departments began to exceed their fiscalyear 2008 planned fuel expenditures despite the fact that extrapadding was included in those budgets.

For fiscal year 2009, the fuel cushion has necessarily increasedacross the board.

“Fuel – it’s tearing us up,” said District Two Supervisors BobbyJ. Watts. “If the general public would really take a good look atwhat it takes to run them bush hogs, they’d make us shut ’em down.But they want their grass cut.”

District Four Supervisor Doug Moak said supervisors looked forevery way possible to trim expenditures during budget planning, butfuel costs would not allow any corners to be cut.

“I feel like we did all we could to stay in the best operatingrange we could,” he said.

District Five Supervisor Gary Walker said high fuel costs arefelt in almost all aspects of the supervisors’ duties.

“Fuel, grader blades, culverts – if it involves oil or steelproducts, it’s going up every day,” he said. “You’ve got to haveit. You have to run your equipment or park it. We’re just trying tomake up the difference, trying to break even.”