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Can we balance the budget without tax increases?

I was thinking about how I would deal with the 28 million dollar budget shortfall.

I would be less than honest if I pretended to have all the answers. 

I can share with you some thoughts....

First, I am digging. I am watching all the you tube videos of previous commission meetings and staff briefings. I am studying the budget data that is available on the county web site. I have already met (just me and them) with Averil Pinder and Michael Fru to ask them pointed questions about the budget. I continue to dig.

What I have concluded so far (though it's only the beginning, it's only just a start)....

1. The tax increase can be avoided if we simply tell department heads that they must do with less. One problem is with not coming to grips with "wants" and "needs." We simply cannot have everything we "want."

2. We could save 4.1 million dollars if we delay the installation and purchase of solar panels for schools and public buildings.

3. We could save $100,000 if we do not add a new employee to assist with medicaid expansion.

4. We could save $500,000+ if we do not add 8 new positions in public safety.

5. We could save 14.4 million dollars if we delay capital projects in the public safety department.

6. We could save 520,000 dollars if we stop reparations, 426,000 dollars if we do not continue with EV charging infrastructure, and we could save 308,000 if we hold off on election services spending increases.

7. We could save 80,000 dollars if we do not add a new position to the cultural and recreational department budget.

8. We could save 530,000+ if we eliminate the DEI department.

9. I noticed that we have budgeted 4.6 million in salaries and benefits for the public libraries. With the internet age upon us, maybe we could save some money on consolidating libraries?

10. I noticed that we have added a third county manager assistant at 200,000+ salary. (Averil and her 3 assistants cost over a million in their salaries alone). We are at the high end of salaries for a similar sized county.

11. Other things I noticed and I am still researching are Grant revenue and expenses, debt service, the TDA money uses, estimated sales tax revenues, and other sources of funds.

12. There is an FTA grant that must be used for "urbanized" areas only . The county is having a problem spending all of this grant money and may have to return the unspent portion to the federal government. I am researching how it could be transferred to the city such that the city could then take the money that was earmarked for transportation and use it to give the police or teachers a raise. (Thinking out of the box!)

This is a huge undertaking, but I am absolutely sure there is waste and inefficiency. If I could, I would simply tell the county department heads to do with less. I would tell them to forget about what they want and concentrate on what they need.

I will continue to study, research, and do my homework.


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