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Carroll County Commissioners struggle to fund 2011 budget requests

By Carol McIntire

Carroll County Commissioners spent much of Monday and Tuesday trying to wrangle up some extra money to meet the needs of the county in 2011.

Last Thursday (Jan. 30) they received the carryover amount from Auditor E. Leroy VanHorne that allowed them to move forward with the budget process. VanHorne’s figure of $268,596 falls short of what commissioners believe they need to adequately fund the county.

“We’re about $100,000 short,” Commissioner President Tom Wheaton said Monday.

He said the major shortcoming included the loss of a $100,000 grant by the Sheriff’s Department that paid for two deputies, his desire to increase the economic development director position from part to full-time and an almost certain increase in the county’s share of the Multi –County Juvenile Attention System program.

“We are also uncertain of what cuts will be made to local government funds by the state, which we will see in June,” Wheaton explained. “We would like to keep about $50,000 back to cover that uncertainty. If we appropriate everything we have and then the state cuts our money, we will be short six months this year and really be in trouble next year.”

The budget commissioners are working with is $5,568,596, which is up just slightly from the 2010 budget of $5,551,452. “We have no more money, but we have more responsibilities,” Wheaton noted. “We want to provide the best level of service possible but we may need to reposition funds from places that have had them for a long time to other places to position ourselves for the future.”

He said office holders have been “digging in” the last two years and expressed appreciation for their efforts.

Later in the day Monday, VanHorne told commissioners they have an additional $1,034 to work with that came from unused purchase orders.

After wrapping up Monday, commissioners met in special session Tuesday to finalize the process. The budget had to be completed Tuesday so county employees could receive their first paycheck of 2011 Thursday.

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