Spending cuts made line by budget line item

Friday, July 31, 2009

Marshall County Budget Committee members continue to review spending plans and make cuts of a few thousand dollars here and there in a general fund of about $35 million.

"We're sort of desperate," Commissioner Mickey King, chairman of the committee, told Bob Hopkins, director of the county's Emergency Management Agency, during another cutting session on Wednesday.

Faced with lower revenues from sales and property taxes, the committee prepared to recommend cutting $4,000 from an $18,000 allotment for volunteer fire department's fire truck fuel.

While fuel prices are lower this summer, compared to $4 per gallon prices about a year ago, there are quirks in how the county will fund fire departments. Hopkins explained fire truck insurance is paid by the EMA budget if the trucks are deeded to the county. One department refrained from making its trucks county property until they're paid for. That reduced county spending, but it's also been seen as a reason to consider cutting fuel for that department in the north end of the county.

Meanwhile, James Whorley, director of the county's Emergency Medical Service, discussed the cost of autopsies and a free service to funeral homes - holding bodies in the morgue until a family is to arrive for a funeral.

"The building was built as a public service," King commented about the ambulance station on South Ellington Parkway where the county morgue is located.

As committee members comb through the budget one line at a time, they've found reasons to recommend budget policy changes. At least two were found on Wednesday.

Whorley reported custodial supplies for the ambulance service were being purchased from money allocated for medical supplies. The new director changed that practice and started another account in his budget to separate spending after he succeeded Jimmy Adams as director.

Various parts of any budget have miscellaneous accounts, but Commissioner Don Ledford recommends greater definition for budget line items on spending when purchases exceed $500.