The Adams County Council spent two and a half days last week working on the 2012 budget and reduced departmental budgets by more than $323,000. Council members will meet on October 11 to formally approve a budget that totals more than $11.6 million Among cuts next year are per diem payments made to the three county commissioners when they act in their capacity as members of the county drainage board. The council indicated that when the 2013 budget is prepared in 2012, all per diem payments will be eliminated except those required by state law.
For next year, only two pay increases are anticipated: $1,000 more for Sheriff Shane Rekeweg, as mandated by the state, and $3,000 in the parks and recreation department nonreverting operating fund.
All other proposed pay increases in the departmental budgets are to be eliminated.
The council could not approve the budget in mid-September because of an error by the county auditor in setting up legal advertisements printed in local newspapers. The error was caught and corrected before the ad was printed in the Daily Democrat, but not before it was printed in the Berne Tri-Weekly News.
The council members are also saying that, in 2012, they will ask all departments to redouble efforts to cut budgets, save money, etc. in every possible way.
County Auditor Bill Borne says he anticipates that, by December 31 this year, the county will have as a backup $2.8 million in reserve funds and $1.9 million in the Rainy Day Fund, for a total of $4.7 million.
In Wednesday's edition, the Daily Democrat will list the budget amount proposed and the amount allowed for each department.
Letter notes 'urgency'
As the Adams County Council began its work on the 2012 budget, its president, Randy Colclasure, sent a letter to all the members and to the department chiefs about the urgency of reducing budgets and expenses now and every year afterwards.
County Auditor Bill Borne, who was present throughout the budget session, said the council members fully agreed with the contents of a letter, which reads, "It was brought to our attention that we must cut over $900,000 from our budget. This task is not only overwhelming,it is impossible to do on our own.
"First and foremost, as much as we hate to do this, we have decided that we are not able to allow raises this year.
"We came to a consensus that we do not want to arbitrarily cut departmental expenses, especially the potential cut of personnel, and we have decided to make all of the department heads aware of the situation.
"We need to cut the budget the best we can this year. We will be forced to cover the deficit by using county cash reserves, but this problem MUST be addressed next year.
"Between now and next May, we need to define and implement ways the county can save money. This could include anything from job consolidations, cutting of expenses, and suggestions on cutting anywhere we can cut . . . anywhere in the county.
"This cutting MAY include cutting of personnel. We hope not, but if we look at this realistically, since personnel is about 65 percent of the county's expenses, how can we not consider this?"