08/21/2008: "County Hiring Freeze"
County Administrator Pete Rose has suggested to the County Council that “we work this year to try and balance the budget for next year.”
Rose is responsible for all hiring and firing, and concerns about the budget has resulted in Rose initiating a ”limited hiring freeze” on new county personnel.
Auditor Milene Henley has joined Rose in informing the County Council they are facing a budget crunch, and if spending is not curtailed, the impact on the budget will flow over into next year.
On several occasions Henley and Rose have gently reminded the council that “you are already spending next years money.”
Rose asked the Council if they would like to review their current expenditures, and also review their proposed expenditures, prior to making them. Rose also asked the Council if they want a “2008 target to meet the budget of 2009?”
Part of the problem for the council is the on-going problem of the county not knowing what the final revenue numbers are going to be. A fact that resulted in past jokes that former County Auditor Si Stephens “has a magic drawer in his desk” that he can go to and get money from.
The drawer in question is the one that all Auditors have that contains the numbers of forecasts and received revenue from sources the Auditor has no control over. Because of the uncertainty of how much money the County will have in a given year, auditors try and keep a responsible amount in a County Current Reserve.
As the Council spends more then they have, they having been dipping into the Reserve. They also take money out of the Road Fund. Public Works Director Jon Shannon said the Council has moved 600K to help fund the Sheriff’s department, and another 400K to the county general fund for various programs and expenses.
There was a general consensus from the council members that they needed the recommend report from staff that would show where they are, and where they are going.
Councilman Kevin Ranker stated that the lack of funds is “limiting our ability to even discuss some of the exciting things that we have been doing and looking at.”