County budget set for next fiscal year

COLUMBIANA — The county is setting a conservative budget for the next fiscal year, with revenues predicted to come in at $3 million less than last year’s budget.

The total budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year is set at about $81.8 million, a drop from last year’s budget of $84.8 million.

The next fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

County Finance Manager Butch Burbage said the county is doing an excellent job of holding down expenditures.

There are no step raises or cost-of-living raises in next year’s budget, but the county also doesn’t expect any layoffs, Burbage said.

“We did what we said we were going to do,” he said. “The good news is we’re not talking about layoffs and we’re not talking about salary reductions.”

Burbage said one way the county is keeping costs low is by leaving 33 positions unfilled. Those positions came open when former employees retired or left, and the county decided to leave them empty to save money.

“Lines are a little longer and we have to juggle our people when they go on vacations, but hopefully people understand,” Burbage said.

Leaving those positions unfilled has especially impacted the county’s license offices, which can sometimes see long lines.

He said many people don’t know the county has a license office in Inverness, located in the Inverness Corners shopping center at the corner of U.S. 280 and Valleydale Road.

In addition to that office, the county has license offices in Pelham and Columbiana.

Burbage said although the budget is conservative, he’s seen positive signs the economy is slowly recovering. For example, sales tax collections are creeping up.

“We’re not seeing big drop-offs anymore. We’re leveling off,” he said. “We’ve cut what we needed to and we’re living within our means.”

The budget will come before the County Commission before the end of September.