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Commissioners continue to tweak county budget

by Sheila Gardner
sgardner@recordcourier.com

Douglas County commissioners wrapped up two days of budget workshops Wednesday looking for ways to eliminate a $3 million deficit from a general fund budget of close to $40 million.

“We’re getting a triple whammy,” said commissioner Greg Lynn. “We still don’t know the outcome of collective bargaining, very active legislative mandates and overregulation.”

County manager Steve Mokrohisky said the board may hold an additional workshop toward the end of April with an update on negotiations with three labor unions representing county employees and sheriff’s office personnel.

The 2012-13 tentative general fund budget includes $37,529,547 in revenue and $40,477,132 in expenditures, representing a shortfall of $2,947,585. The budget represents a 2.2 percent increase in revenue over fiscal year 2011-12, and a 9.9 percent increase in expenditures.

The board did not discuss specifics of layoffs or salary reductions, electing to wait until negotiations are farther along.

Last year, to avoid layoffs, county employees accepted a 5 percent wage reduction. This year, there are no merit increases.

Mokrohisky made it clear to the board that as personnel costs make up 72 percent of the budget, it’s unrealistic to assume there would be no changes.

He told the board Tuesday it was within their control to reduce the deficit by capturing part of the property tax rate from the East Fork Swimming Pool District and the Western Nevada Regional Youth Center, and increasing collection of cost allocation. The board is authorized to reduce contingency to 1.5 percent and decrease room tax transfer.

As budgeted, those changes would total up to $1.68 million of a $2.95 million deficit.

The board is also authorized to reduce personnel expenditures, but must wait until the conclusion of contract negotiations.

The budget also includes enterprise funds from the county’s lake and valley water systems. Commissioners are to consider final adoption of new rates on Thursday, to take effect July 1.

Mokrohisky said the Minden-Tahoe Airport was a “bright spot” in the county’s budget process.

“A lot of time and effort has been put in over the years, with money spent on maintenance and repair,” he said.

Mokrohisky said the fact that the airport was back in compliance with federal standards made the facility eligible for Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program grants for capital improvements.

He said the airport is self-sufficient, receiving no general fund dollars, and paying its share of cost allocations.

Commissioners are scheduled to adopt the final budget at a public hearing May 21. The budget is due to the state on June 1. The 2012-13 fiscal year begins July 1.

ON THE WEB

Budget workshop presentations

http://www.douglascountynv.gov