Douglas has budget gap of at least $130,000 |

Douglas has budget gap of at least $130,000

Christy Chalmers, Tribune News Service

MINDEN – An optimist would say Douglas County’s general fund budget is $130,000 short for the coming year.

A pessimist might say the county is $725,837 in the hole – unless leaders decide to make the cuts department managers have recommended to reach the lower figure.

The County Commission will start making those decisions today during the first of three budget hearings. The $19.3 million general fund will be the focus of today’s hearing, which starts at 4 p.m. at the Minden administration building, 1616 Eighth St.

“The question’s going to be the $130,000,” said County Manager Dan Holler. “We didn’t have requests for new personnel, and departments were rolling over last year’s budget for the most part. But they’re still going to have some hard decisions to make.”

Department heads recommended cutting $340,294 from the high figure by deferring implementation of the Tahoe master plan, saving $60,000; potential renewal of the federal Community Oriented Policing grant ($125,000), skipping a $40,000 phone system warranty and cutting $47,894 worth of various line items, among other things.

Another $252,429 could be saved by not filling two deputy sheriff positions ($91,250); not hiring a building inspector ($42,260); cutting code enforcement and internal auditor positions to half-time for a savings of $50,000 and cutting a Community Development clerk ($29,183).

Planning and building positions would be consolidated, saving the other $39,466.

Holler is warning those cuts will have consequences. The code enforcement cut, for example, could result in some violations not being enforced.

Assuming those cuts are made, the commission then has to decide where the rest of the $130,000 will come from. It could be done with cost shifts, general fund transfers, or the most visible method: program and service cuts.

While today’s task will be tough, tomorrow’s may be easier. Wednesday’s hearing, which also starts at 4 p.m., will center on the room tax budget, and early indications are that it’s balanced, as long as commissioners agree on cutting one full-time position and 10 part-time workers that do facility maintenance. Park users may also be asked to pitch in on playing fields by doing their own field striping and other chores.

On Thursday the commission will address all the other funds. That session will start at 6 p.m. All hearings will be at the Minden administration building.

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