County passes budget; spending decreases by $3 million

The Shelby County Commission Monday morning passed the county budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins Oct. 1.

The $84.2 million budget calls for total revenues of $84.7 million, which leaves a net surplus of only $500,000, said county finance manager Butch Burbage.

“If we have one thing go wrong, it could really go wrong,” he said. “That is six-tenths of one percent of what we didn’t budget. So that shows you how tight our budget is. That’s all we have to cover any kind of variance.”

This year’s budget is a $3 million drop from last year’s budget of $87.5 million. The cuts were necessary because of projected drops in property taxes and sales taxes.

“I think we’re prepared. We have some pretty heavy cuts, but that’s just what we have to do. We have to deal with what we have,” Burbage said.

The 2010 budget contains no funding for new employees or for either cost-of-living increases or step raises for current employees. Also, 28 unfilled positions will be left empty.

At first glance, the capital projects budget appears to have increased from $2.6 million last year to $3.6 million in the 2010 budget.

However, $2 million of that is federal money from the economic recovery act and a Federal Aviation Authority grant, which was specifically earmarked for capital spending. The county is contributing $1.6 million for capital spending, down from $2.6 million last year.

Burbage said passing a balanced budget is state law as well as a fiscally responsible position.

“We can’t have a deficit budget. We can only spend what we take in. We couldn’t have $87 million in revenues and $90 million in expenditures,” he said. “We’re just meeting what our revenue was.”

County Commissioner Lindsey Allison said in an e-mail the budget shows the commission’s commitment to fiscal responsibility.

“The budget represents a very responsible commission considering the conditions of the economy,” she said. “The budget is balanced, meets the county government priorities and does not eliminate necessary services. There are reductions in capital spending, but that is to be expected with the reduction in revenue. The commission, thanks to an excellent staff, is positioned to weather these difficult times.”