County expenditures cut further

WARRENSBURG - Friday afternoon, Warren County budget officer Kevin Geraghty sat with his office door shut, and a paper tape from his adding machine extended from his desk to the floor.

Sequestered in his office, Geraghty was busy crunching numbers, making final budget reductions, in preparation for some landmark decisions this week.

The 2010 county budget, which has spawned job losses and controversy, is scheduled for a vote Friday by the full county Board of Supervisors, as they determine their preliminary spending plan under a looming state deadline.

When the supervisors started their budget cutting in the spring, the increase in amount to be raised by taxes for 2010 over 2009 was about $13 million, and it increased by millions more over the next few months - due to cutbacks in state reimbursements and revenue shortfalls both in sales tax receipts and from the county trash plant operation. Most of these shortfalls were prompted by the floundering economy.

Tax hike now estimated at 11 percent

But in the last several days, Geraghty and other county officials have trimmed just more than $2 million of an anticipated $6 million shortfall.

The latest reductions, taken late last week, include savings of $300,000 in how the county Social Services Department administers the federal food stamp program, $140,000 in health insurance savings, $1.5 million due to applying a one-time federal reimbursement stipend to local Medicaid costs, and $115,550 in additional cuts from equipment, supplies, fuel and miscellaneous costs throughout the county departments.

As of Friday afternoon, the budget shortfall stood at $3,946,000, which would represent a 10.9 percent increase in county taxes for 2010, down from a 16.6 percent increase predicted last week.

Cutbacks threaten jail revenue

Recent budget reductions included a vote by county supervisors last Tuesday not to fill two jail guard positions, which may prompt the state to decertify the county jail from accepting boarders from other counties, according to Sheriff Bud York. Such a move could cost Warren County hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue - including losing a planned $210,000 increase for 2010 in boarding receipts, he has warned.

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