Approach to budget change unfair

Published 10:24 am Thursday, February 18, 2016

District 1 Supervisor Rev. Jerry Wilson is upset about how the county will now split road and bridge funds. We understand his frustration.

The Board of Supervisors voted recently to divide the funds based on how many road miles are located in each district. According to county documents, District 1 has 105 of the county’s 1,037.4 miles. District 1’s percentage of the funds will now reflect that, ensuring that district receives $275,417 — a decrease of $159,945.

While the redistribution of funds based on miles is logical, an unplanned $160,000 budget cut will be difficult for Wilson to handle.

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“The issue is, I know you all cut my budget, and I know you’re the governing body — I do know that much — but I did ask y’all for mercy because I have some guys that I have to lay off,  four guys, four, four guys,” Wilson said. “And y’all wouldn’t work with me.”

District 3 is the main benefactor of this change — it will receive $128,671 more.  It’s possible some of District 1’s employees can join the crew at District 3 since that’s where most of funding went. But we’re guessing all of them will not.

And that’s what makes this change difficult. Surely the county could have phased in the new funding formula to avoid reducing Wilson’s budget immediately. Doing so may have helped Wilson adjust to the decreased amount.

“All of the districts have different mileage, and some of us were running real low on funds, and some were getting too much, is what it amounted to,” said District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown. “If you look by the old figures, the mileage was so unbalanced. We decided to amend the budget.”

Brown is right, and the move to divide funds based on miles is logical. But an immediate mid-year budget change of this amount is unfair to Wilson and his employees. Gradually redistributing the funds — or allowing District 1 to help the other districts with road work — may have been the better approach.