Board Talks Budget Cuts
Updated revenue figures with proposed tax rate cuts drew a grim budget picture for the Moore County Board of Commissioners Monday night.
In a marathon meeting lasting more than three and a half hours in the public portion, the commissioners learned that a proposed 3-cent reduction in the tax rate would amount to almost $7.5 million dropped from the 2009-10 budget.
Financial Services Director Lisa Hughes reported that possible cuts in employee compensation would total no more than $1,265,500 and would still leave the county more than $6 million short of targeted revenues. Employee cuts included such things as cost of living adjustments and longevity raises.
"We still have a long way to go," she said.
County Manager Cary McSwain warned that draconian cuts in the operating budget could result in a severe reduction in quality of service.
Board Chairman Nick Picerno said he would like to adopt a 3-cent reduction at that meeting but said he lacked sufficient information to make a decision at that time.
Commissioner Tim Lea made a motion to table the tax rate reduction and to return the issue to the agenda at the second board meeting in April. By that time, he said, the board should have additional information helpful in reaching a decision. The vote was unanimous.
However, the commissioners split their vote on Lea's next motion, which was to apply the 2008 fiscal year budget to the 2009-10 budget. Lea and Commissioner Cindy Morgan voted in favor of the motion, but Picerno and Vice-Chairman Jimmy Melton dissented. (The fifth commissioner, Larry Caddell, was absent because of illness). The tie vote means the motion failed.
The board studied a series of issues relating to the slumping economy and the budget for the new fiscal year during the meeting. At an earlier meeting Lea proposed that the board adopt a 3-cent tax rate reduction, reduce the new budget by 5 percent, reduce the Advanced Life Support tax rate and place a cap on the size of the fund balance. The commissioners voted to cut half a cent from the ALS (emergency medical services) but deferred action on the other recommendations.
In other action Monday the board voted unanimously to issue the remaining $29,500,000 in general obligation bonds for the public schools and the college and to recall the 1998 series of general obligation bonds for refunding at a possible lower interest rate.
Additional details will appear in the print version of The Pilot.
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