County budget committee continues to ‘hash out’ budget details

Published 12:03 am Friday, May 22, 2015

Members of the Carter County Budget Committee continued to hash out budget and funding requests during a workshop session on Thursday night.

Committee members discussed additional funding for the Carter County Rescue Squad, cutting funding for economic development and tourism, adjustments to the general fund and an imbalance in the Highway Department budget.

At the first workshop in this year’s budget process, committee members heard a request for an additional $387,000 in funding from the Carter County Rescue Squad. The increase in funds is necessary to keep the agency in operation, CCRS Director Terry Arnold said, adding if additional funding is not received the agency may have to sell out to a private company.

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During that workshop, Commissioner Nancy Brown requested to have the County Technical Assistance Service consult with the county on the needs of the emergency medical service and advice on how to proceed. At Thursday’s workshop, the group reviewed the report returned from the CTAS consultant.

“As you can tell from reading this report, there are a number of issues he had,” Commissioner Buford Peters said, adding he had met with the consultant during the visit.

Among the issues noted by the consultant, Peters said, were the agency’s fund balance, collections of debt, charge write-offs, duplications of services and performing services without reimbursement.

In response, Arnold, who attended the workshop, told committee members the consultant “did not look at the whole picture” when he reviewed the agency’s records and did not take the time to see first hand the day-to-day operations.

While some committee members questioned the spending and operations of the agency, others spoke in favor of granting additional funding.

“The Rescue Squad, I think personally, needs more money, but I don’t know how much we can afford to give them,” Commissioner John Lewis said. “I don’t think we need to let them go away.”

While Lewis said he was in favor of giving additional funds to the Rescue Squad, he also suggested some expenses in the budget he felt could be cut.

“The Carter County Tomorrow, I think we need to take the $40,000 away from them,” he said. “I think we need to take these $90,000 away from tourism, the Chamber of Commerce, because we are not getting anything good out of it.”

Members of the Commission discussed cutting funding for Carter County Tomorrow earlier this year during a meeting of the full body, but ultimately referred that matter to the budget committee. No mention was made at that time regarding funding for tourism or the Chamber of Commerce.

In the General Fund portion of the county budget, County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach told committee members that fund is “a balanced budget, with a little to the good.”

One area that will need attention in the General Fund, though, is the allocation for the Commission.

“The way we have it now is not sufficient,” she said, adding funding fell short during the current fiscal year.

Peters suggested enough funding be placed in the budget to cover 14 meetings of the full commission, noting the group had to hold two special called meetings during the current fiscal year.

Brown offered her own suggestion on how to cut corners in that part of the budget. “We could even consider cutting our own pay and taking less,” she said, asking Deloach to look at the cost savings that would come with cutting the money commissioners make for attending meetings.

While the general fund budget is in good shape, Deloach said the same could not be said for the Highway Department budget, which she said would need $786,000 in additional funds in order to balance.

Committee members asked Deloach to take the budget request back to Road Superintendent Roger Colbaugh and ask him to rework his request with the goal of balancing the budget.

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for May 28 at 6 p.m. at the Carter County Courthouse.