Budget & Finance
Review Of EMS,
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Department heads and elected officials alike are beginning to make their requests for the 2013-2014 budget to the Greene County Budget & Finance Committee, and all are hearing the same reply -- budgets are to total no more than the amount approved for the current fiscal year.
The committee is addressing any increases, including a state-mandated 4.6 percent salary increase for elected officials, though decreasing funding in other areas within a department's budget.
"We've got a state-mandated increase but no state-mandated [additional] revenue," Commissioner Robert Bird said, noting that this salary increase alone could all together cost the General Fund another $100,000 per year.
The General Fund is the fund out of which most departments operate.
Committee members expressed surprise on Wednesday, however, that the process of prohibiting any growth in expenditures has so far been relatively painless.
"I don't remember ever having had these budgets coming in as close as the prior year's," County Mayor Alan Broyles commented. "And a lot of them have come in lower than [the current year's budget]. I'm pleasantly surprised."
Other members agreed, noting that officials' response to maintaining the same budget has been amiable as well.
"We've got to do what we've got to do," Commissioner Hilton Seay said. "It is what it is, and we've got to treat everybody alike."
Even with pulling projected budgets back to -- or less than -- the current year's approved expenditures, the county could likely still face a deficit, Broyles cautioned.
"I don't have too good of a feeling about revenue projections," he said. "Keeping budgets the same or lower is going to help out a lot."
Nonetheless, all votes to approve departmental budgets have been "tentative," with the understanding that a deficit could mean going back to make cuts.
Director Robert Sayne, of the Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services, was the first to appear before the committee on Wednesday.
Sayne oversees two budgets, one for the county coroner and one for ambulance and emergency personnel.
At County Attorney Roger Woolsey's recommendation, the committee added $400 worth of bonds for supervisors.
Sayne noted that he also increased the "contracts with private agencies" line item from $14,100 to $14,700 to cover the actual cost of the medical examiner's contract.
He took this additional $1,000 out of his line item for "other equipment," effectively lowering this from $6,500 to $5,500.
This shift returned his requested expendituress to the current year's total of $122,260.
In the ambulance/emergency personnel budget, Sayne originally had increased his request from this year's $3,296,140 to $3,300,640.
"I've tried to keep from increasing the bottom line anywhere," he said, noting, however, that he is facing increased costs for drugs and medical supplies that are even, at times, becoming difficult to obtain at all due to a national back order.
He said that he had already reduced his "motor vehicles" line item from $160,000 to $111,400 to cover some of this increase. This change, he said, will result in the department purchasing one new ambulance this year instead of remounting two.
He then offered to take the remaining additional $4,500 out of his "other equipment" line item, reducing it from $25,000 to $21,500.
The committee tentatively approved both budgetary requests.
Sayne also briefly updated the committee on this year's revenues, which he said may come in between $100,000 to $150,000 short of expectations due largely to Medicare cuts.
State and federal mandates would require the county and the Town of Greeneville to make up any difference in a 70 per cent /30 per cent split, he said.
The committee also tentatively approved a number of other budgets on Wednesday.
* These included Property Assessor Chuck Jeffers' Geographical Information System's budget, which stayed the same at $25,300, the Reappraisal Program, which stayed the same at $10,800, and the budget for the property assessor's office.
This budget stayed the same outside the state-mandated salary increase for the property assessor as an elected official. This increase took the salary from $73,370 to $76,752, in addition to increasing the corresponding benefits.
Jeffers agreed to take this total $4,029 increase from his "other contracted services" line item, which pays for audits.
"I can make it work," he said. "I can balance it."
This returned his total budget to $579,000.
* Building Official Tim Tweed presented and had approved his Code Compliance budget and Inspection Regulation/Building & Zoning budget at the same amounts as the prior year, $10,500 and $176,700, respectively.
* Register of Deeds Joy Rader Nunnally presented her budget with only the mandated elected official's salary increase from $73,370 to $76,752, plus benefits, for a total increase of $4,010.
Nunnally agreed to take this amount from her "maintenance and repair" line item, out of which she has been digitally scanning back deeds. This will reduce that line item to $3,890.
This brought her total budget back to $343,500.
* Circuit Court Clerk Pam Venerable presented her Circuit Court budget with a slight decrease in the total already in place, from $703,760 to $703,710.
This decrease was possible from a restructuring of the office and reduction in salaries for replacement personnel when she took office, Venerable reported.
This reduction exceeded the state-mandated elected official salary increase from $73,370 to $76,752.
"Let's approve this and let her go before she changes her mind," Bird said jokingly.
The committee also reviewed but did not act on the County Mayor/Executive budget due to recent changes in staffing in that office that will result in some line item changes within the budget.
Broyles asked to make these changes and present the budget at an upcoming meeting.
The committee will meet again on Tuesday, April 2, at 9 a.m. in the conference room at the Courthouse Annex.