The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a balanced budget for fiscal year 2010 on Wednesday night, which will keep the millage rate at 9.73 and will cut approximately 16 jobs.
The biggest budget adjustment came from the Sheriff’s Office, which will not see any increased personnel or money next year but will instead stay at the same funding level as the FY2009 budget. This change cut nearly $1.82 million from the remaining $4.98 million deficit.
The second largest budget reduction is the elimination of approximately 16 full-time employees. Employees do not have to be cut, but at least $399,418 has to be cut, and the only non-essential expense left in some departments is personnel. The 16-employee figure is determined by valuing the average employee position at $50,000. Cutting 16 employees would save $800,000 but $400,582 of that would be offset due to severance packages and other items.
The third largest change was an addition of projected revenue because of a higher than expected tax digest. The county received its final tax digest on Tuesday and the larger digest, $2.84 billion up from the previously projected $2.80 billion, will bring in an additional $400,572 to the county at the 9.73 millage rate.
Other previously discussed options like mandating 15 unpaid holidays for every county employee, reducing overtime and eliminating district projects were approved and reduced the deficit by the remaining more than $2 million.
Other options like reducing appropriations to the library, recreation commission and other areas by an additional five percent were not included in this approved budget.
All of the commissioners commended Chairman Kathy Morgan, Administrative Officer John Middleton and the county staff for coming up with a budget proposal that addressed everyone’s concerns.
Morgan said she didn’t know which positions would be cut, but she said approximately four of the positions are currently empty and will simply not be filled.
District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing said he was very pleased that the budget didn’t include a millage rate increase, didn’t cut any public safety jobs and was approved unanimously by the BOC.
Sheriff Ezell Brown said after the meeting that he will continue to control costs while providing the necessary public safety services. He said the approved budget will increase morale among his officers who will no longer have to worry about losing their jobs, but he added that his heart goes out to the county employees who will be let go.
District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson warned the packed courthouse audience that all of these numbers are only projections, which could change in the future.