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Budget may revert to ’08 level

POSTED: May 20, 2009 4:00 a.m.

There are no new positions, vehicles or cost of living adjustments in the proposed three-year budget presented to the Dawson County commission last week.

  

Commission chairman Mike Berg said the budgets over the next three years must revert back to the 2008 spending level in order for the county to weather the current slump in tax revenue.

  

“If we’re going to stay above the water, we’re not going to be able to spend anymore than we did in 2008,” Berg said.

  

The commission is reviewing the proposed $23.8 million budget, which requires two public hearings before it can be approved. The first hearing is set for June 4.

  

The county’s 2008 budget was $23.9 million. The proposed 2010 budget represents a 16 percent decrease in spending from 2009, when the budget was $27.59 million.

  

The 2010 preliminary budget does not call for a tax increase, Berg said. The county’s millage rate has remained at 8.138 since 2004.

  

Berg, who has been meeting with key county staff and officials since March, said only essential personnel vacancies will be filled, resulting in more than $500,000 in savings from the current year.

  

As in past years, public safety makes up the highest percentage of operational funding, or about 46 percent of the anticipated expenditures in the 2010 budget.

  

The county has made more than $2.5 million in cuts in various areas and continues to look for ways to trim expenses.

  

“We have several positions we’ve made the decision not to fill and cut back in all of our operating areas in costs,” said County Manager Kevin Tanner. “We’re limiting training and travel and looking at ways to cut costs in telephones and vehicle maintenance.

  

“Anything that we can do to cut cost and still provide quality service for our citizens, we’re doing that.”

  

Voluntary furloughs have been discussed, although the county has not taken that step, Berg said.

  

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonnews.com.

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