|Measure to restore Tourism funding fails|
|Tuesday, September 18, 2012|
Squires continue search for budget cuts
By PATRICK HALL
Wilson County Commission once again voted down funding for the Convention & Visitors Bureau during Monday night’s meeting, and squires continued looking for opportunities to cut the county’s budget.
A resolution presented by District 11 Commissioner Jim Bradshaw would have restored funding to the bureau in-full, which squires cut during the Aug. 27 meeting, saving $204,000. However, squires voted against the resolution Monday night 16-7 with little discussion.
District 17 Commissioner Gary Keith opposed the resolution based on the commission’s rules of order since it had not been considered by the Budget Committee. County Attorney Mike Jennings said the resolution was “a motion to amend the budget” and said it didn’t violate any rules.However, Bradshaw noted he wanted to bring it to the Budget Committee during its meeting on Sept. 7, but said members did not allow him to present the resolution. The committee did not make any cuts during that meeting, but charged each department’s committee with cutting budgets.
“No action was taken at the last budget committee meeting,” Bradshaw said.
While the measure was voted down, Finance Director Aaron Maynard noted some departments have cut back on their budgets but not by a large amount. He said seven departments have cut $11,728 of recurring expenditures from their budgets.
“That’s not huge, but it is recurring money,” he said. “We are still looking to close the $834,000 gap.” The county’s budgeted expenditures are more than its expected revenues, leaving them to take that $834,000 from its General Fund.
Maynard said the 7-cent property tax increase passed on Aug. 27, of which 4 cents goes into the General Fund, was a necessary step for the commission to take.
“There would be people in the unemployment line if we didn’t do that,” Maynard said, adding that he estimated at least 25-30 employees may have been laid off if the commission didn’t pass the property tax hike.
Squires were also curious about how the Finance Department dealt with departments over-spending line items, which District 15 Commissioner Mike Justice said was “bad business.” Justice asked if there was a limit for a department over-spending a line item.
Maynard said departments were allowed to spend more than what was budgeted in an individual line item if the expenditures don’t over-spend that department’s entire budget. Justice said he didn’t want to get into micro-management, but noted a cap should be in place on over-spending.
“It hasn’t been a huge issue for us,” Maynard said of departments being able to spend more than they have budgeted in a line item.
Justice said that policy allows departments to move money freely within their budget and said the line item system was almost pointless if a department can spend more than is budgeted in the line item. Maynard said they could look into placing a cap on over-spending lines, but added if a department overspends repeatedly, they will look into where those expenses are and ask questions about the activity.
Also, District 16 Commissioner Jason Brockman said the county should look into keeping a tighter inventory of supplies and assets after Maynard noted the county’s policy has been to not inventory items under $10,000 in value.
Maynard noted the “Capitalization Policy” has been around for many years and said if an asset is less than $10,000 it is listed as a supply and not specifically tagged for inventory. Brockman was concerned the county does not inventory its computers, given that they fall under the “capitalization” amount.
Also during the meeting, commission elected two new members to the Budget Committee while voting to keep two of the current members. District 5 Commissioner Jerry McFarland and District 9 Commissioner Sara Patton were elected to the committee, replacing District 20 Commissioner Annette Stafford and District 23 Commissioner Bernie Ash.
Two of the committee’s current members, Justice and District 22 Commissioner Wendell Marlowe were re-elected to serve on the committee.