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Board to field input on budget

Tax hike not likely

POSTED: June 17, 2009 4:00 a.m.

The Dawson County commission will gather feedback on the county’s 2010 budget during Thursday night’s regular called meeting.

  

The proposed $23.8 million budget, which requires three public hearings before it can be approved, represents a nearly 14 percent drop in spending from 2009, when the budget was $27.59 million.

  

The 2010 preliminary budget does not call for a tax increase.

  

Additional hearings will be held at 6 p.m. July 2 and 16. After the third meeting, the commission likely will vote on the budget and the millage rate, which has remained at 8.138 since 2004.

  

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.

  

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

  

There are no new positions, vehicles or cost of living adjustments in the proposed 2010 budget.

  

As in past years, public safety makes up the highest percentage of operational funding, about 46 percent. 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.

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