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Posted: May 18, 2009 11:58 p.m.

BOC at impasse over budget

After a four and a half-hour budget work session on Monday night, the Board of Commissioners remained divided over how best to cut the remaining $4.8 million fiscal year 2010 budget deficit.

Commissioners Mort Ewing and Tim Fleming remained steadfast in their refusal to raise the millage rate from its current 9.73 rate. District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson wanted to raise the millage rate to its rollback rate of 10.308, because he refused to cut more than 15 county employees. Commissioner Nancy Schulz and Earnest Simmons attempted to strike a compromise by raising the millage rate to 10.00, reducing the recreation commission and other county appropriations by 5 percent and cutting around 25 employees.

The only thing commissioners agreed on was limiting any cuts to public safety departments, but opinions varied slightly even in this area.

Several other possible cutting options were proposed by commissioners, but most would have been ruled out by Chairman Kathy Morgan because they would illegally cut mandated local services.

The Historic Courthouse was packed with county employees when the meeting began at 7 p.m. and slowly emptied out as the hours dragged on. Employees said they understood the difficult process but they also wanted the board to make a decision.

A drained board decided to reconvene May 27, the final day the budget can be approved on time without missing the appropriate public advertising and state approval deadlines. The date was chosen because Ewing cannot meet any other night this week and Simmons is unavailable during all of the days.

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