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Cuts and tax increase options presented to close $4M county budget gap
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Three options for closing an additional $2 million county general fund budget gap were presented to the Board of Commissioners today at the Monday work session.

The $55.4 million budget passed last year already required a tax increase of between .66 mil to 1 mil to raise about $2 million to balance the budget. But earlier this month, the county announced it faced an additional shortfall of about $2 million, due a lower tax digest estimate than previously projected.

The three options, which were chosen by BOC Chairman Richard Oden on Friday out of a list of five options, were presented to the board in broad, unspecified terms, and Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon discussed meeting with each of the part time commissioners, JaNice Van Ness and Oz Nesbitt, to discuss the options in further detail.

All three options are estimated to produce about $4.6 million.

The first two options would raise the county portion of the property tax by 1 mil, from 14.53 to 15.53 mils, which would bring in an estimated $2.6 million.

The first option would also have reduced operational costs and salary savings of about $719,000, an early retirement payout plan, which would save about $250,000, and unpaid holidays or furloughs, which would save about $780,000.

The second option would have reduced operational costs and salary savings of about $1.75 million.

The third option would raise the millage rate by two mils, from 14.53 to 16.20, which would bring in the estimated $4.36 million.

Pridgeon pointed out the estimates of all three options assumed that constitutional officers, such as the sheriff's office, tax commissioner's office, the county courts and state court, and county clerk, and their offices would participate. The county has about 840 employees, about 55 percent of which are public safety personnel and about 240 of them are in general services.

The other two options that were turned down by Oden included reducing the workforce by 58 employees and reducing operational costs, for a savings of about $1.8 million, or reducing the workforce by 33 employees and reduced operational costs, for a savings of about $1.7 million.