County Comment: County Approves Fiscal Year 2006 Budget

County Comment
County Approves Fiscal Year 2006 Budget
by Norman Bassett, Washington County Public Information Officer

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved Capital Improvement and General Operating Budgets amounting to over $210 million for the fiscal year that begins in July, in its regular meeting on May 24th.
Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), which build and maintain roads, build and renovate schools, maintain bridges, improve solid waste was approved at $52,847,544.
The Operating Budget is balanced at $160,777,866, provides all Education in the County with $109,851,841 in operating and Capital expenses and fully funds the Board of Education's fiscal request.
Public Safety, Police Fire and Ambulance services will receive $20.5 million, and Courts and State Agencies will receive $6.3 million. The remainder of the operating budget supports Government services, Non-profit Human Service Agencies and other programs.
Approximately $563,000 was moved from the Capital Improvement Projects budget to a contingency line item following adjustments. In the CIP, the Highway User Fund will increase by $1.8 million and will increase amounts used for paving projects and needed equipment for the Highways Department.
The School Board's fully funded operating budget of $92,752,440 was unchanged.
The Board did not reach consensus to add a supplement to the BOE Capital Improvement request, pending full evaluation of the maintenance needs of all of the schools.
The general operating budget was reduced by $92,500 following a number of adjustments. $7,500 was added to the Department of Social Services budget to increase the Director's salary. The Arts Council request of $5,000 was reduced by 50% with the remaining $2,250 added to the Senior Living Alternative, Holly Place, budget.
The two largest cuts were to requests from the Washington County Free Library and to the Humane Society. The Library had included $70,000 due to what it called an extra pay period in 2006. Budget and Finance Director Debra Murray told the Board that each year has 52 weeks, and the increase was removed.
The Humane Society Operating budget was reduced by $75,000.00 and a vehicle request of $40,000 was eliminated with the County giving that organization a used SUV instead.
The County Attorney's budget for contractual services was reduced by $15,000.00.
$100,000 of the amount moved from the CIP to contingency was set aside to provide funding for a study of transferable development rights or other agricultural preservation programs.
The average employee salary adjustment was maintained at 4%. The changes resulted in a reduction of $92,500 to operating budgets.