In addition to relying on department vacancies to help stretch Douglas County's budget, County Manager Dan Holler is asking departments to cut expenses 2 to 5 percent.
"I've sent a memo to the various departments asking them what it would take to find that savings in their budgets, both short- and long-term," Holler said. "We haven't received a lot of response yet, but it's a good starting point."
The percentage is not written in stone at this point, primarily to provide more flexibility. Some department budgets may be able to cut more and others less, Holler said.
Douglas County used $400,000 in reserves to balance this years' budget, a gap primarily being filled by county positions left vacant. Departments have been requested to wait 60 days before starting the hiring process, a measure that is expected to save the county an estimated $515,000 in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The list includes eleven vacancies at the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, three investigator II positions and three recreation coordinators in the parks and recreation department, according to county officials.
"It looks like we are trying to balance the budget on the back of the sheriff's department," said Commissioner David Brady. "My concern is, what commitment are we making should that trend reverse?
"I want to make sure we have the flexibility to adapt and adjust," Brady said.
"The intent is not to balance the budget on the back of the sheriff's office, but the county has identified that area because they are having a problem filling vacancies," said Assistant County Manager Michael Brown. "Those positions are not frozen or unfunded and we're not recommending taking those (positions) away."
The 60-day hiring freeze does not apply to positions at the sheriff's office, Brown said.
"I applaud the savings, but it's just a hiring freeze," said Commissioner Jim Baushke. "It's incumbent on all county managers and elected officials to do their best to reduce spending and institute programs to save money.
"We have to look at where we can save money by doing business in a different way," he said.
Staff is looking at ways to cut back and recommendations for the upcoming year should be ready in a few months, Brown told the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.
"We plan to come to you with our recommendations in February," he said.
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