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Commission looks for answers for $3.1 million deficit

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

There’s a $3 million “hole” in Washington County’s budget and now Washington County Commissioners are looking to fill that deficit.

“We’ve got a $3.1 million-plus hole we’ve got to plug,” Commissioner and budget committee member Freddie Malone said on Friday. “I feel the need to rightsize government, which means we’re going to have to cut some areas no matter how much we don’t want to. But I think to make the budget balance, some of that is going to come from transfers.”

The budget committee met on Friday for a nearly three hour meeting and reconvened on Monday morning. On Friday, commissioners unanimously opted to eliminate the 2% raise for employees and transfer $1 million from the county’s debt service fund followed by another $1 million from the capital projects fund.

Director of Accounts and Budgets Mitch Meredith said the budget committee first needed to get a “reasonable budget” figured out to be published for citizens to view 10 days before the budget hearing. Meredith added that he felt a tax increase was not an option for the upcoming budget.

“I don’t think an 8-penny tax increase is in the cards,” Meredith said. “I’m going to be realistic about that. Facing reality where we are, you’re going to have to move money from this (debt service) fund to help take care of the general fund.”

In addition to the $1 million transferred from the debt service fund, the county also transferred $250,000 from the capital projects fund for school projects and $750,000 from the general capital projects fund. 

“(Transferring funds from the school capital projects fund) will shift the schedule for projects,” Grandy said, “but we can come back to that.”

Commissioners also suggested the county cut its other special allocations for non-profits after considering scaling back its contributions the past few years.

“I think that’s a smart thing to (cut down on non-profit funding). The city did it,” Commissioner Suzy Williams said. “At some point we’re going to have to do it completely. Although it was to be staged and it has been staged to a certain degree.”

The next budget meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 10, at 9 p.m. That meeting will be held electronically and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4MZUAgq8j-SvzZb_2xucpA.