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Paid holidays added back into proposed 2010 budget
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County employees might be able to keep their paid holidays, according to revisions in the 2010 proposed budget.

The Board of Commissioners considered a revised and increased 2010 budget proposal at Monday night's work session that would reinstate seven paid holidays for county employees and cut two new positions previously included in the budget.

The new budget total would be about $55.4 million. That would be about $650,000 more than the $54.9 million budget presented at the Nov. 30 appropriation hearing.

"Initially there were going to be seven unpaid holidays. The county employees for 2010 will have all nine holidays," said Roselyn Miller, director of the finance department.

The increase was slightly offset by cutting two positions - one in the fire department and one in legal affairs - from the 2010 budget.

Miller said that the burden of making up the deficit had always been spread between the county employees and taxpayers in previous budget proposals. She pointed out that seven unpaid holidays amounted to a 4 percent cut in each employee's salary.

"That burden was difficult for 600 employees trying to close a deficit of $1 million. This budget, what I presented today, the only portion the employees would be feeling is the healthcare. That increase would remain the same."

Commissioner JaNice Van Ness said she was disappointed by the revised budget proposal.

"There have got to be ways to reduce the budget to a more reasonable amount," said Van Ness. "I'm hoping between the first reading and second reading we'll all work together; that means the department heads too."

Commission Chairman Richard Oden said "We're still working on things and finalizing things and continuing to rework things the best way we can...We're looking at every possible option we have to keep people in their homes and keep foreclosures down."

Commissioner Oz Nesbitt had no comment.

The proposed budget would require an unspecified millage rate increase. An increase of about one mil on a $100,000 house would be about a $20 increase on the county portion of the property tax bill.

The BOC will take up the first reading of the 2010 budget in their Tuesday meeting at the County Assembly Hall at 901 Main Street.


In other BOC business:

The board also looked at amending the Hazard Mitigation Plan to allow for buying properties in the flood plain that were severely damaged by flooding and likely to be damaged again.

"When we did the pre-disaster plan, nobody thought about acquisitions as part of the plan," said Kent Asher, GIS manager and flood plain manager.

Asher described a GEMA/FEMA program that would cover about 85 percent of the cost of a severely damaged property in a flood plain while the county would have to cover about 15 percent.

The program is voluntary and the owners of one home in the Lake Capri neighborhood and two trailers below Hi Roc Road that were severely damaged have expressed interest in the program, said Asher.

He estimated the three properties would cost roughly $260,000, not including additional costs such as removing a septic tank.

Under the program, once a house or trailer was acquired, it would be razed to the ground, any septic tanks would be taken out and the deed would be restricted in the future so that people would not be allowed to live on the property.

"Given the budgetary constraints we're under, I need to know if we can come up with the 15 percent or if I should not even pursue it" he said.

The application deadline is Jan. 19. Asher said he was meeting with GEMA representatives on Wednesday.

"I'd be interested in the process," said Van Ness. "I just can't commit that we're going to come up with 15 percent."

County Clerk Jennifer Rutledge pointed out the plan amendment was only a pre-requirement to the actual certification program.