Douglas County budget balanced; hours to be cut at Zephyr Cove Library and Kahle
Douglas County has balanced its $121 million budget without the use of reserves, but residents will see some reductions in services, including Tuesday closures at the Zephyr Cove Library and shorter hours at Kahle Community Center. The library, which now is closed Sundays and Mondays, will be closed on Tuesdays as well beginning July 1. As was the case last summer, Kahle will be closed on Sundays over the summer and also is likely to reduce its weekday hours. Scott Morgan, the county’s community services director, said details of hour reductions and possible program eliminations still are being worked out. But Morgan said he expects Kahle’s “high-profile” programs to be preserved. “The father-daughter dance, the (Easter) egg hunt, are going to continue,” he said. Many popular programs are funded through donations, Morgan said. But someone on county staff is needed to organize the activities. That is less of a problem now that the department has been given the go-ahead to fill one of the four recreation coordinator positions that were being held open because of budget uncertainties, Morgan said. And even though some positions will remain vacant, Morgan said: “Everyone on our staff wants to do more with less.” In addition to reduced hours at Kahle, the Douglas County Parks & Recreation Commission was scheduled to meet Tuesday night to discuss possible fee increases at the center for drop-ins and monthly, quarterly and annual passes. At the Zephyr Cove Library, the revised schedule will probably have the biggest impact on those who use the library’s conference rooms on Tuesdays, said Library Director Linda Deacy. Library staff will start contacting regular users of the conference rooms so they can start thinking about meeting at a different time or location, she said. Most library programs will continue, Deacy said, although they might be scheduled less frequently. For example, visits to preschools that occur every three weeks might take place every four weeks instead. “It’s going to slow things down, but it’s not going to stop things,” Deacy said of the budget reductions. County commissioners tentatively adopted the budget May 1. Although the budget is called “tentative,” Morgan said that “for all practical purposes, the budget they approved will be our final budget.” “The board directed the Douglas County budgets ” general fund, room tax and senior services ” be balanced without reserves. We’ve done that, but there will be some significant cuts,” T. Michael Brown, interim county manager. The county’s deficit grew from $137,000 in March to $482,000 by the end of April, but Brown said last Thursday that the budget was balanced through a half-dozen changes. The savings include: — $124,000 reduction in travel expenditures. — $113,000 by discontinuing vacation and sick-leave buyback program. — $40,000 by removing transfer to China Spring youth camp. — $50,000 reduction in sheriff’s capital outlay (cost covered by reimbursement). — $77,000 reduction in professional services (budget moved to appropriate fund). — $78,000 charging 100 percent of project manager’s time to capital construction funds. Brown credited department heads, elected officials and their employees with absorbing the cutbacks to balance the budget. “We do this as a team,” Brown said. “There is participation by everybody.” Commissioner Kelly Kite took exception to public comments that poor planning and rapid growth were responsible for the shortfall. “I keep hearing jabs at ‘mismanagement,’ ” Kite said. “Nobody complained about mismanagement when we were the second-lowest county in the state in property tax. We didn’t misspend the money. We just didn’t collect it from you in the first place. When revenues go down, you run a lean operation, and programs get cut.” Commissioner Jim Baushke said compared with the rest of Nevada, Douglas County was in good shape. “We’ve got to get some companies to move in who pay a decent wage for people to live here. That takes a long, long time to do it,” he said. The board voted 4-0 to accept the budget. Commissioner David Brady was absent. The final budget is set for adoption May 19.