EDITOR'S NOTE: A follow-up to this meeting is what's planned for a work session Wednesday, June 24, at 10 a.m.
After hearing proposed budgets for county departments last week, the La Paz County Board of Supervisors heard budget revisions proposed by County Administrator Ron Drake and Finance Director Terry Krukemyer at a work session June 17.
“We’re looking at every budget and asking where we can save the county the most money,” Drake said.
Krukemyer explained that, while the overall county balance was estimated to have a surplus, the general fund was coming up $516,000 short on revenues estimated at $18 million. He said over $1.45 million in cuts were made to produce a positive balance of $633,000.
Krukemyer told the board that these were conservative estimates as far as revenues went. He said sales and excise tax revenues are expected to be lower in the coming fiscal year due to restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic.
The overall county budget is estimated at $35.6 million in expenses with $39.2 million in revenue. Krukemyer said this included special funds, grants and the jail district.
The jail district’s revenue is estimated at $7.4 million, but that’s only if the district gets paid for beds for 200 federal prisoners. Krukemyer noted a new contract is needed for the county to receive federal prisoners.
“If we don’t get that contract, this budget is out the window,” Krukemyer said.
Many line items were cut in the budget proposals Krukemyer presented. These included office supplies, fuel, telephones and communications, travel expenses, software and hardware.
As an example, Krukemyer and Drake said the Emerald Canyon Golf Course wanted to purchase 10 new gold carts at $5,000 each or $50,000 for all of them. This was cut to five new carts at a cost of $25,000. Drake said the course needed new carts as some of the ones they have are 12 years old.
Course Director Steve Benton said they have 35 carts, which means that, with few new ones per year, they’d have a complete turnover in seven years.
As another example, the Parks Department requested $6,000 for diesel fuel in the upcoming fiscal year. However, they only spent $2,100 in the current fiscal year. The budgeted amount for diesel fuel for the parks was reduced to $3,000.
Some line items were actually increased. In the current fiscal year, Central Dispatch had $1,000 budgeted for software, but they actually spent $2,100. The amount for the new fiscal year was increased to $3,000.
Drake and Krukemyer announced a small increase in the minimum wage for county employees. It will go from $14 per hour to $14.10 per hour.
Assessor Anna Camacho noted her request for two new employees had been removed. Camacho has been vocal is saying her office needs more staff to get their work done properly.
Drake responded that every county department is short-staffed because the county does not have a lot of money.
“We’re trying to do what we can with the money we have,” he said.
Another work session to discuss appeals on the budget proposals will be scheduled for this week.
The new fiscal year begins July 1.