Supervisors to finalize the 2013-14 budget

Feather Publishing

This is your chance to weigh in on what’s most important to you

  For the past several weeks, the Plumas County Board of Supervisors has grappled with the 2013-14 budget. Supervisors Jon Kennedy and Terry Swofford have met with each of the departments along with their budget consultant, Susan Scarlett, and county Auditor Roberta Allen. Several of the departments have brought their concerns to the full board.

  There are several options on the table — some are expenditures that are readily visible to county residents such as the resumption of Friday hours, and others are sound fiscal moves such as funding long-term liabilities, but they don’t provide immediate gratification.

  Now it’s decision time.

  The supervisors will hold a public hearing Sept. 18 to discuss the budget. It’s the public’s opportunity to weigh in on what services are most important to them.

  Should furloughs be abolished so that county offices are once again open on Fridays?

  Should the supervisors fund video streaming so that the board meetings can be viewed live throughout the county?

  Should the board allocate money to fund long-term liabilities for county employee retirement?

  Should the supervisors continue to fund the county fairgrounds?

  What about the museum, libraries, senior nutrition and tourism?

  Thus far the supervisors have been working with a status quo budget, which mirrors last year’s spending, and leaves them with a projected budget shortfall of just over $500,000. Budget consultant Scarlett has offered some options, such as reducing the amount of money in the contingency fund, which would reduce the shortfall to just a little more than $3,000.

  Late last week Scarlett was optimistic that there might be some additional revenue that she could disclose during the board’s Sept. 10 workshop, but was reticent to discuss prematurely.

  Whether the budget picture brightens or not, the supervisors will be left with important decisions to make.

  During interviews last week, both Supervisors Kennedy and Lori Simpson said they would be looking at furloughs.

  Kennedy said he would lift furloughs only “because services to the public are diminished,” and the board might not be able to do it across the board. Additionally, he said that furloughs have impacted employee morale, which can also result in diminished service to the public.

  Simpson said she would also consider lifting furloughs because “employees have taken the biggest brunt.”

  During this year’s budget process, one entity has been strangely missing — the sheriff’s department. Sheriff Greg Hagwood will operate with the same allocation he received last year.

  With more funding for law enforcement out of the discussion, the supervisors can consider other requests, such as money for the county fairgrounds. “It’s much more than a week of carnival rides,” Kennedy said of the fair, but admitted that if it came down to the fair or essential services, he would vote to fund the latter.

  The public hearing begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, in the Board of Supervisors chambers. Take the opportunity to be heard.

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