Commission orders balanced budget |

Commission orders balanced budget

Lorna McDaniel

Weary commissioners directed County Manager Dan Holler Thursday night to present a balanced budget as well as options in where to make the cuts during budget hearings, which start next week.

Holler said staff had spent much time trimming the budget to a low $150,000 shortfall, in preparation of the tentative budget.

“The process that remains is what to do with the remaining $150,000,” he said at the meeting held at the County Administration Building in Stateline.

Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen said, “I have no problem cutting $150,000. Believe me, we will cut $150,000, but we need better information.”

Commissioner Bernie Curtis said, “If the department heads don’t want to make those final decisions, we pledged as a board to balance the budget and make tough decisions.

“I’d like to get (the budget) down to zero, zero, zero, then determine where we are going.”

Holler warned if the deficit remained at $150,000, it would double by next year with inflation and employee costs.

Commissioner Don Miner interjected several times his desire to cut departments beyond that necessary to balance the budget, and put the savings into priority capital or road projects that have been deferred for years because of past deficits.

He said it is embarrassing that crumbling steps on the County Administrative building in Minden, a $50,000 project, has turned into a $100,000 project and that a $20,000 roof job on the County Administrative Building in Stateline will now cost $130,000, because of deferment.

Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed protested any deeper cuts, saying the department heads had worked hard to get to get down to the $150,000 and some have proposed significant cuts. She asked that the commission not surprise the departments with such short notice – the hearings just three days away – by asking to see more cuts.

District Attorney Scott Doyle backed Reed’s comments by saying with growing frustration, if the commission is not satisfied with the savings the DA’s office will make and apply to what he called a $115,000 deficit, “then you will have to order the cuts. I can’t recommend cutting further in a responsible manner from the DA’s budget.

“You are the legislative branch and you can ask the clerk to do it, but we’d prefer to have more lead time than just the remainder of the week.”

He suggested additional cuts be made in the time between the tentative budget and the final budget so that cuts could be made, “in a meaningful and well thought out, reasonable way.”

Curtis ended the discussion by saying that the commission would balance the budget and to go further cuts may require a six-year plan.

“We may have to delay a capital project or two,” he said counter to Miner’s ideas.

County Manager Dan Holler said in an interview Friday, the commission had not decided what to do with the $1.7 million set aside for the Dangberg Ranch. The commission decided to settle for a one-time payment of $50,000 and the transfer of 145 items to the Carson Valley Historical Society instead of pursuing the estate in court.

Holler said some of the funds may be discussed at the budget hearings next week.

“It’s a fairly large sum of money and I don’t imagine it will be commited all at one meeting,” he said. “It will probably be done over time.”

The remaining funds, supplied by the room-tax, would have to be spent on projects within the jurisdiction of its revenue generation, Etchegoyhen said.

Those areas would include remaining with parks and recreation or other divisions of the room tax-funded departments, such as the airport, he said.

Parks and recreation is eyeing the funds to combine with community center reserves for the expansion of Kahle Park.

However, Etchegoyhen said the commission wanted to use the money for a project that would produce an “ongoing net income to the county.”

He said one option was the $1.2 million expenditure for hangars at the Douglas County Airport that is estimated to generate $175,000 per year.

He added that there is a waiting list for hangars at the airport.

“If the numbers are correct, it is something we would look at,” he said.

Budget hearings begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 6 p.m. Thursday at the County Administration Building, 1616 Eight St., Minden.

Tuesday’s meeting will finalize discussions on the general fund, Wednesday will be special funding and Thursday will include capital projects and ad valorem funds.