Plan Seeks $850,000 In Education Cuts To Lower Deficit

May 29, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

The County Commissioners' plan for eliminating a $1.94 million fiscal 1992 shortfall calls for $850,000 in education budget reductions but spares social programs and avoids layoffs.

The latest cost-cutting plan was unveiled Tuesday, just two days before the board is scheduled to adopt a budget that has been revised seven times because of slumping revenues. Adoption is set for 2 p.m. Thursday in Room 300A ofthe County Office Building.

To solve a current $6.4 million deficit, Budget Director Steven D. Powell also recommended cutting or deferring another $1.1 million to balance the 1991 budget, as required by law. The 1992 budget year begins July 1.

The plans are prefaced by a cover sheet that reads, "NADA. ZILCH. NOTHING," in large block letters. "An attempt at black humor," said Powell. "It's another way to say, 'We ain't got none.' "

Upon request from the budget office, Superintendent R. Edward Shilling and the school board are developing a plan to conserve $300,000from this year's budget and cut $550,000 from next year's proposed $58.1 million spending plan. The $300,000 would be placed in the general fund for dispersal to other departments in 1992.

The school board previously cut $500,000 from this year's budget to help the countyreduce its deficit.

"(Shilling) said before that he wanted to be part of the solution," said Commissioner President Donald I. Dell. "That's what he's doing. We're glad to get the cooperation."

Shilling is expected to inform the commissioners today that he will make therecommended reductions.

Shilling's recommendations will be voted upon by the school board before July 1. Although the Board of Education receives money from the commissioners, it is autonomous in its spending.

School board President John D. Myers Jr. said the panel will try to minimize cuts that would diminish instruction or staffing.

"Education is labor-intensive," he said. "People make a difference."

Other recommended cuts for 1992 include: $350,000 from land acquisition for public facilities; $350,000 by freezing open positions included in the budget and delaying other hires; $134,811 from capital projects; $133,620 from the Sheriff's Department; $115,830 from various government agencies and programs; and $5,000 from the County Arts Council, which further reduces the contribution to that agency from $29,000 this year to $15,000.

"I don't see much time left to make changes even if we wanted to," said Dell. "I feel comfortable we did the best job we can."

Powell said his department will "scour" the 1991 capital budget to try to find about $500,000 left over from projects to beef up the depleted contingency fund, a key component to bond-rating agencies.

The tax rate will remain at $2.35 per $100 of assessed property value, which means the owner of the average $134,000 home will pay $1,260. But the county will generate an additional $4.8million, or 9.8 percent, over this year because of increasing values.

The bulk of the recommended 1991 cuts are capital projects, including $412,945 from the highway safety program.

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