Commission barely escapes deficit budget

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 5, 2001

Staff Writer

The Pike County Commission appears to barely be escaping a deficit budget in the 2001-2002 fiscal year.

Before last night, it appeared the county was in a deficit situation, but as Commission Chairman Willie Thomas pointed out, "We can’t pass a budget that’s in the red."

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Thursday night, commissioners met to go over the budget prepared by Debra Gibson, chief financial officer for the county.

That proposal shows the commission increased its General Fund debt by approximately $62,000 for the 2001-2002 fiscal year. That amount does not include a $410,000 note with Troy Bank and Trust.

In her letter of concern, Gibson stated a $315,044.01 transfer from road and bridge funds was made to the General Fund in order "to pay back a quarter of the note back plus interest in the amount of $144,475. The remainder of this money is needed in order for the General Fund to operate."

In that letter, Gibson indicated $200,000 was requested in order to purchase new equipment for road and bridge, but that money was not transferred "as the General Fund is in need of these funds this year in order to operate. General Fund will have to subsidize Solid Waste in the amount of $44,042.19 for them to meet their budgeted expenses."

If the request had been granted, the General Fund budget would have been left with a deficit of $158,300.16, Gibson said.

According to her figures, the county will be in excess of $19,044.84 "after all possible cuts" were made.

Her figures have revenues at $3.066 million and the county spending $3.047 million.

Those cuts will include appropriations to outside agencies, such as East Central Mental Health-Mental Retardation, the Pike County Health Department, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the Pike Library Cooperative, Pike County Chamber of Commerce and the Auburn Extension Service.

"This is a belt-tightening year," Thomas said. "We’re going to have to make some sacrifices."

Some of those sacrifices will be the elimination of overtime and forcing part-time employees to work only up to 19 hours to avoid payment into the retirement system.

Commissioners actually discussed the option of eliminating all part-time employees, but chose to cut back their hours, instead.

County Administrator Mark Tyner said the new fiscal year budget will leave next to nothing for such things as travel and training and office equipment.

Thomas said "there may be some flexibility in the overall budget" of different departments, such as moving money from one line item to another.

The commission could approve the budget as early as Tuesday.