Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

County to conduct budget process differently this year

At the request of the Washington County Audit Committee, a different kind of process will be followed in preparing the county budget for fiscal year 2013.
“We’re trying to avoid the disaster we had last year,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said while reviewing the proposed timeline during the March 9 meeting. “Because of the budget amendments made on the floor, (the commission) ended up funding nonprofits that never asked for money.”
Rather than the full commission considering individual requests, Eldridge is proposing Washington County designate a pool of funds it can afford to give. Committees will then meet with the organizations to qualify the requests and recommend appropriations.
The General Health and Welfare Committee will meet with nonprofit groups; the Public Safety Committee will meet with volunteer fire departments and emergency medical services; and the Education Committee will meet with the school board and higher education organizations.
According to Eldridge, the amount of these appropriations has grown over the years.
“A little less than $3 million is what is being funded now for those groups,” he said. “We cut it last year by 13.5 percent. Don’t be surprised to see another cut in that amount this year.”
Taxpayers have also expressed concern, Eldridge said.
“They’re asking, ‘Why are you giving my money away?’”
Commissioner Mitch Meredith said he has received similar comments from his constituents.
“They say, ‘Take my tax dollars to run the county, and I’ll be charitable,’” he said.
The Budget Committee will meet with county officeholders and department heads regarding their requests.
“We have 80 days to get the budget ready, and my hope is that involving commissioners from the beginning will help,” Eldridge said. “I hope we don’t (again) have 14 public budget meetings and get to the commission floor and have someone say he’s only had (the budget) for 15 minutes.”
The timeline indicates a final draft of the 2013 budget will be completed by May 31, with consideration by the full commission planned for the June meeting.