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Inside the County Budget Proposal

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POSTED: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 9:12pm

UPDATED: Friday, August 20, 2010 - 11:33am

Smith County is short of money and as always, there are a couple of things you can do about that. You can cut the budget, raise taxes or both.
 

The County Judge chose a bit of both.
 

The county is facing nearly 10-million dollars in red ink next year, and the tug of war over how to cover that was evident at a public meeting this week.
 

The budget was technically in the red this year, but there was enough in the county fund balance to cover it.
 

Even though the county expects revenues to go up about 4-million dollars this year with the new, higher proposed tax rate, current operations without any cuts will go over by 9.2-million dollars, because that fund balance has to be replenished. If it dips below the 12% level, it begins to affect bond ratings, so putting money back in the rainy day fund is necessary.
 

And, the proposed budget of over 68-million dollars is actually less than was spent in 2009.
 

But how much to tax, and where to cut is where the battle lines were drawn.
 

The budget presented by Judge Joel Baker eliminates roughly 30 positions, either by not hiring, or laying off personnel.
 

Hardest hit is the Road and Bridge Department which will be reduced to maintenance of current roads, not the building of new ones.
 

Commissioners Joann Hampton and Bill McGinnis don’t want the personnel cuts being proposed. In the words of one, there must be a better way to get there.
 

But it also raised the property tax rate from 28.8-cents per hundred dollars value to 33-cents. Commissioners Terry Phillips and Jeff Warr are opposed to a tax increase they consider too high, and for them, 33-cents is too much.
 

The tax rate and budget figures all have to be approved by the end of the month. The fiscal year begins October first.
 

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Gee, I wish I could just vote myself a pay raise ( by stealing from taxpayers) eveytime I spent too much....

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