• 57°

Supervisors approve budget for new year

While Lincoln County schools will be seeing a small fundingincrease, other county services will be operating on slightly fewertax dollars next year – a fact that both pleases and concernsleading officials.

Supervisors Wednesday approved a $19.2 million budget for the newfiscal year that starts Oct. 1, a net $74,000 increase over thisyear’s spending plan. A budget summary calls for about $19,500 lessin expenditures for county operations and about $93,600 more tosupport the local contribution to the school district.

For county property owners, the new budget can be funded with aslightly lower tax levy, although leaders are expecting to collecta few more dollars due to a small increase in the overall assessedvalue of property in the county. For county operations and schoolsupport, officials are expecting $14.1 million from the taxlevy.

“We held the line and were able to cut right at $67,000 on thecounty side,” said County Administrator David Fields.

With the county’s cuts and the $93,659 more for schools, the neteffect is an anticipated $26,688 increase in funding from the taxlevy.

The actual levy, though, will go down six-tenths of a mill. Millsare used in conjunction with property values to determine how muchindividual property owners pay in tax each year.

For owners whose assessed property values have not risen, the levysuggests a minimal decrease could be in store for them when taxnotices go out later this year.

“We tried to hold the budget at what it was last year,” saidDistrict Four Supervisor Doug Moak, president of the board.

District Three Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson, the board’svice-president, expressed similar sentiments.

“I’m glad we were able to hold it the same,” he said. “I just hopewe can make ends meet.”

Moak said that could be a tough task.

“Everybody’s going to have to tighten their belts to make it work,”Moak said.

Field said county department heads were told to prepare budgetrequests based on funding they received last year. He indicated thedifficult economic situation made budget preparations this year alittle less challenging.

“From a budgeting standpoint, this year was pretty easy,” Fieldssaid.

Fields said county department heads were instructed to work insmall pay increases of about 50 cents an hour, or $50 to $75 amonth. County employees did not get raises last year, hesaid.

“It’s more than offset by increases in (employee costs for)insurance and retirement,” added Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishopabout the overall net effect.

With the budget virtually unchanged, Williamson expressed concernsabout the costs of various supplies and contract services thecounty accepts bids for in January. He indicated higher costs forthose goods and services could made the budget more difficult tohandle.

Moak suggested the possibility of seeking bids more frequently,perhaps every three or six months, instead of having priceseffective for an entire year.

“It’s pretty hard for people to know what the price of something isgoing to be for a whole year,” Moak said.