Budget reviews scheduled | RecordCourier.com

Budget reviews scheduled

by Andy Bourelle

Officials will be reviewing Douglas County’s tentative 1997-98 budget during three meetings next week, and the public is welcome to attend.

Two meetings are scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Old Courthouse in Minden. The third meeting is scheduled to follow Thursday’s county commission meeting at the County Administrative building at Stateline. The budget meeting is estimated to begin after 5:30 p.m.

The meetings will be structured in a workshop atmosphere and will be a good opportunity for residents who want to have a better understanding of how Douglas County is structured financially, according to Douglas County Manager Dan Holler. Residents will be able to learn more about the complex nature of the county’s budget.

Unlike a business, the county must follow restrictions on what sources of revenue can fund certain programs. Although one program may have a surplus of funds, another still may need to have cutbacks in service. State law mandates most of the requirements, Holler said, and residents wondering about levels of service and sources of funding will have the opportunity to ask at the workshops.

During the meetings, county staff will be presenting the budget to the county commission. Tuesday’s meeting will deal with the county’s general fund and the fire and paramedic districts.

At Wednesday’s meeting, officials will be discussing the county’s special revenue funds, including services funded by room tax and gas tax, and funding for 911, solid waste, the airport, social services and the cooperative extension. Thursday’s meeting will focus on the county’s capital funds, debt service, internal service funds and enterprise funds such as water and sewer.

Rather than a line-item-by-line-item analysis of the budget, Holler said, the meetings will be more of a topic-oriented discussion.

The budget is only tentative at this point, but Holler estimated 98 percent of it would not change before the final budget is submitted to the state. Another hearing will be scheduled for April if modifications need to be made, and a final state-mandated hearing will be scheduled for May.

For this year’s budget process, the county commissioners asked the staff to come up with a balanced budget. Because of reductions made over the last few years, Holler said, the county staff was able to do more than that.

At the March 12 county commission meeting, Holler informed the board the county would have a $22,000 surplus of funds for this budget.

Planning over the last few years made the surplus possible.

“A lot of reductions over the past three or four years are paying off,” Holler said. “A lot of the difficult choices we made the last couple of years are making things easier this year.”

Even with the difficult task of balancing the budget, Holler said the process has gone smoothly so far this year.

“Overall, the process with the county staff went very smooth,” Holler said. “Everyone was extremely cooperative in putting the budget together. All components of the county – department heads, elected officials, the fire district, the library, everyone – all worked together to bring this thing in.”

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