The Transylvania Times -

By Mark Todd
Staff Writer" 

Manager Presents A 'Bare Bones' Budget


May 29, 2009

Transylvania County Manager Artie Wilson Monday called for a "bare bones" $39.2 million 2009-2010 county general fund budget on Tuesday that would require no increase in the overall amount of property taxes collected.

Wilson said during his budget presentation to county commissioners that he anticipates a 38 percent increase in the tax base because of the recent property revaluation.

Wilson, however, is proposing a "revenue neutral" tax rate of $.3949 per $100 in property value to bring in the same amount of property taxes as did last year's rate of 54 cents.

The proposed budget is $4.5 million, or 10.3 percent, below the current year's budget.

For the second straight year, the budget will provide no funds for county employee pay increases.

But the budget will be sufficient to avoid layoffs or major cuts in individual programs. Instead, a variety of budget reductions will be made to balance the budget.

Wilson is proposing taking $400,000 in reserve funds to help accomplish it.

The recession has cut revenues sharply and does not appear likely to end quickly, Wilson said.

He said he is particularly concerned about the state budget deficit and pending additional cuts in state funds that could negatively impact the local schools and other programs. The General Assembly will likely not finish its budget until after the county budget is adopted, Wilson said.

"What is the impact? No one knows at this time," Wilson told commissioners.

He said he is pleased with the hard work done by the county departments and the school system to keep their budget requests as modest as possible.

"This has not been easy, but I am very proud of the efforts of our staff and partners," Wilson said.

The proposed budget does not include any addition or reduction in personnel from the current authorized level. There is one transfer needed from building permitting to maintenance due to the August opening of the new public safety facility.

There is also the addition of a telecommunicator that is offset by the reduction of a vacant position for a public health nurse.

One environmental health position will be split between environmental health and maintenance.

The total funding request from the Board of Education was down 3 percent from last year. Current spending for the schools is requested to increase 6.3 percent, while capital spending for the schools has been reduced by $800,000 (44 percent).

Several members of the public on Tuesday spoke about the need for a new Animal Shelter for the county. They encouraged commissioners to move ahead with that project.

More than $750,000 has been set aside by commissioners for the project, but the budget as proposed does not call for starting the project during the coming fiscal year.

The only commissioner who commented on the budget Monday night was Daryle Hogsed, who praised Wilson and county department heads for listening to commissioners and the public and not proposing a budget that would raise property taxes.

He said county officials continue to want to move forward with the Animal Shelter at some point, but first must meet with members of the Rosman community to air their concerns about the proposed location near the old Calvert landfill.

The budget proposal will be reviewed at 6 p.m. on Thursday during the first of several workshops for county commissioners at the library. The budget must be adopted by the end of June.

Additional 6 p.m. workshops are planned for Friday and Monday at the library.

The first session will look at the overall budget; the second, schools; and the third, fire districts.


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