In a marathon six-hour session Tuesday, the supervisors cut about $700,000 in appropriations out of the budget and added about $400,000 in revenue, merely a revision of an earlier projection of revenue from electricity generated at the county-owned trash burn plant. Other "savings" in the 2010 budget were generated on paper, although no jobs were cut, and few expenses were actually trimmed except reduction in overtime.
Supervisors including Red Pitkin of Thurman warned that many of the budget cuts may be an illusion, as the county department heads have made many cuts now, but will likely be returning mid-year 2010 to seek extra money shifted to fund their operations when they run out of cash. He also warned about over-optimistic speculation on revenues.
"These cuts look good on paper, but I am concerned about the quality of our decisions," he said.
Budget Officer Kevin Geraghty warned that county department heads would be told that they couldn't come back in mid-2010 for supplementary funds or more overtime money.
But Monroe, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said such a dictate would be next to impossible -- that the county has an obligation to provide vital services.
"If a burglar breaks into someone's house, or we have more snow than we've allotted for, our county employees must and will respond," he said. "If heavy rains wash out a highway like they did with county Rte. 11 in Bolton, it's a matter of public safety, and we'll have to pay for it."
Public Works Commissioner William Lamy said that regardless of cuts of hundreds of thousands of dollars this year to his operations -- and DPW job cuts of nearly a dozen -- the county's roads will be as safe as they have in the past. This year, the county highway crews will have one person manning each snow plow, rather than a wingman onboard, as traditional.