Douglas battles $3.4 million budget deficit
MINDEN, Nev. – With an anticipated $3.4 million general fund deficit, Douglas County officials meet Tuesday and Wednesday in evening hearings to determine how to balance the county’s budget.
Department heads and elected officials have been asked to present scenarios showing cutbacks of 5 percent and 10 percent.
“I’ve asked them to throw all options on the table,” commission Chairman Mike Olson said Friday. “We’re dealing with a $3.4 million deficit. It may be reduced, but we don’t know what the state is handing down. We’re reeling just a little bit.”
Olson said the goal is to make adjustments without affecting county services.
Whether there are layoffs or cuts in services is up to department heads.
“We can only pass on how much money is available,” Olson said. “It has to be their (department heads) determination how they handle that. We’re not saying, ‘You have to lose this or that person.’ They come to us with those recommendations.”
Hearings begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the commissioners’ meeting room in the Douglas County Administration Building (historic courthouse) in Minden. The sessions are scheduled to last until 9 p.m. each evening.
Assistant County Manager Steve Mokrohisky said the session will begin with an overview to the board from County Manager T. Michael Brown.
“He’ll take about the challenges we have in various funds. The primary focus on Tuesday is the general fund, the county’s largest fund. The hearings are an overall opportunity for us (staff) to provide the board and the public and the county organization as a whole with an overview of all the budget issues we’re dealing with,” Mokrohisky said.
No action is to be taken at the hearings.
“We’re just beginning the process of consideration of what we’re dealing with and how we’re going to fix it,” Mokrohisky said.
Olson said this is his third budget cycle as a commissioner.
“It’s the largest deficit we’ve had to deal with in the last three years,” he said.
He said the county has been cutting back for the past four years.
“There’s not a lot of fat,” he said. “We’re looking at how we can continue to provide services in a way that is sufficient.”
Since the county budget has to be finalized before the Nevada Legislature concludes its session, the county won’t know in advance what to expect at the state level.
“We’ve worked hard at preparing for the worst-case scenario. We will probably see some health and human services at the state level passed down to the county. We’re trying to give them a list of services we think we can handle,” Olson said.
“We already know there’s to be a 33 percent cut for China Spring (youth camp). We’re trying to look at resources and see where there may be duplication of services,” he said.
Commissioners are to adopt the final, balanced budget May 16. The budget is due June 1 at the state.
TENTATIVE BUDGET SCHEDULE
Tuesday, April 5
5-6 p.m., budget overview
6-6:10 p.m., break
6:10-7 p.m., general fund
7-7:10 p.m., break
7:10-8 p.m., room tax, social services, senior services funds
8-8:10 p.m., beak
8:10-9 p.m., special revenue funds (Cooperative Extension, Law Library, China Spring, Western Nevada Regional Youth Center, 911 Emergency Services)
Wednesday, April 6
5-6 p.m. East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts
6-6:10 p.m., break
6:10-7 p.m., internal service and enterprise funds
7-7:10 p.m., road funds (road maintenance, Tahoe Douglas Transportation District, and regional transportation)
7:10-7:20 p.m., break
7:20-8 p.m., capital construction and debt service funds
8-8:30 p.m., Douglas County Redevelopment Agency