What if a budget hearing was held but nobody came?
That was almost the case in Richmond Hill on Monday night, when Jimmy Burnsed, County Commission chairman and Phil Jones, county administrator addressed issues from the only two residents to attend the public hearing.
Chris Morris said it appeared no one was concerned about the budget, considering the lack of turn out at the courthouse annex. Those who didn’t attend missed a chance to ask questions regarding a proposed budget of more than $17 million.
"It is a big budget for the county, as it grows each year," Burnsed said. "Even in a downturn the budget still grows because of the services provided, and that’s a challenge for all of us."
Among the budget items was $2.6 million for roads.
"The resurfacing of Bellfast-Keller will come from the insurance premium rollback tax funds that were allocated for this year and whatever we need out of the next year’s allocation," Jones said.
Jones said the county was not going to get any state aid on the Bellfast-Keller Loop Road for full scale reclamation.
Morris said a $500,000 portion of the money designated for recreation projects seemed excessive.
"Don’t get me wrong, I think recreation is important, but I think roads are more important, especially the way things are going now and if we are going to keep getting houses in," Morris said.
Burnsed said $500,000 was "only a drop in the bucket for roads, and that a lot of children are served by county recreation."
Jones said the original recommended amount for recreation projects budget was $1.3 million, but that the figure was reduced.
"That amount was not necessarily project specific, and if project specific didn’t come along the funds could be rolled over to next year," Jones said.
Burnsed said there are some big items in the budget.
"EMS is $1.7 million, recreation is $1.6 million – there are just some things you have to do. The Sheriff is $3.4 million and that’s something you have to do. The Sheriff manages his money, and he does it very well, but most of that has to do with operating expenses. He buys all his cars, and a lot of his guns from seized drug money. Short of downsizing salaries, and we don’t want to do that, there’s not much we can do." Burnsed said. "Next year is going to be a tough year, but I think we are better off than most."
Proposed 2009 budget
Animal Control: $200,981
Clerk of Courts: $529,486
County government: $1,061,357
County buildings maintenance: $138,400
Development Authority: $516,787
Emergency Management: $56,301
Emergency Medical Services: $1,738,195
Engineering and inspections: $199,742
Extension Service: $74,172
Family and Children Services: $26,225
Family Connections: $189,911
Fire Protection: $24,357
Forestry Commission: $38,178
Health Department: $163,000
Juvenile Court: $45,181
Magistrate Court: $97,177
Maintenance shop: $316,082
Mosquito control: $56,989
Planning and Zoning: $178,222
Probate Court: $178,222
Roads Department: $2,616,029
Section 5311 (Transit): $311,452
Senior citizens: $177,885
Sheriff’s Department: $3,481.587
State Court: $428,535
Summer Lunch Program: $67,771
Superior Court: $347,149
Tax Assessor: $535,995
Tax Commissioner; $557, 750