BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Budget and Finance Committee declined on Wednesday to endorse -- at this time -- a resolution to make annual, traditional contributions to each of the county's 15 volunteer fire departments.
The resolution, sponsored by Commissioners Anthony Sauceman and Lloyd "Hoot" Bowers, will still be presented to the Greene County Commission during this month's meeting.
"Certainly the fire departments deserve funding," Mayor Alan Broyles said.
He added, however, that he had recently sent word to the departments' association that the county may be "running short" this year and could possibly need to cut back on the county government's donations to nonprofit organizations.
The county already pays the fire departments an amount every year to cover their liability insurance, the mayor added.
"We've already set $800,000 out of balance," said Commissioner Robert Bird, referring to the shortfall between the county's projected revenue in the 2012-2013 budget year and the various county departments' spending requests.
Because of this projected deficit and a resulting need to study the budget in-depth, the Budget and Finance Committee had agreed at a previous meeting to delay considering any nonprofit donation requests until the end of the budgeting process, to see what the county could afford.
Bird added that the committee is not against providing funding to the volunteer fire departments, but he said that the resolution is "a little early" for them to endorse at this time.
"I'm not for spending money that we don't have and don't know if we're going to have," Bird said.
He then made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Hilton Seay, for the committee to not endorse the requested donation at this time. The donation which is being requested is for $75,000.
The committee did approve, however, spending up to $9,846 out of the Capital Projects Fund to purchase a new computer server for the Clerk and Master's Office at the Greene County Courthouse.
Clerk and Master Kay Solomon Armstrong explained that the current server is 13 years old and that the maintenance company had expressed its concern that it may not be capable of properly producing state-mandated backup files at this point.
She added that the server is also used to route Internet access to the various offices in the courthouse.
While the committee hesitated to take the amount from what Broyles called the "dwindling" fund balance, the members agreed that this one-time expense would be appropriate to be taken from the county's capital projects funds.
Broyles reported that the Capital Projects Fund, which is to serve as emergency savings for one-time expenditures, is currently at about $80,000.
Other resolutions that the committee approved for recommendation include amending the 2011-2012 budget for $3,620 in insurance recovery revenues to the jail's "maintenance and repair services for vehicles" line item, and a resolution to budget $2,987 from a Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant into Special Patrol's "law enforcement equipment" line item.
The committee also approved a resolution for recommendation to the full County Commission, in which the county would be allowed to receive and expend funds "in the same amounts and for the same purposes as was appropriated in the 2011-2012 fiscal year" until such time as the county adopts a new budget.
Such action is necessary for the county to continue providing services if a budget is not adopted by June 30, the annual end of the budget year.
In final business, the committee heard from department heads requesting increases for their various departments.
The committee accepted the following proposed budgets for further consideration:
* Chancery Court, with a $4,800 requested increase for increased postal charges, office supplies and various other items;
* Probate Court, with a $29,800 requested increase for an additional full-time employee's salary and benefits to address the need to close what Armstrong described as thousands of old probate cases;
* Circuit Court, with an $18,800 requested increase for increased medical insurance, and maintenance and repair services;
* Property Assessor's Office, with a $13,400 requested increase for the cost of the coming year's reappraisal of all county property;
* County Buildings, with a $400 requested increase for the cost of maintaining the sprinkler system recently installed at the Greene County Courthouse;
* Health Department, with a $6,000 requested increase to aid in covering the cost of a part-time dental hygienist that was until recently paid for by the state; and,
* Veteran's Services, with a $12 requested increase for data-processing services.
The committee will continue reviewing requested increases within the General Fund on Thursday, June 14, at the Courthouse Annex.