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Commissioner Roseann Bentley said it was a difficult budget to balance between the increased cost of services like the jail and the loss of the projected revenue from the failed use tax.
So to keep the money where it needs to be, this will be the sixth year county employees will go without a raise, and eight positions were cut, not including the retired positions that were not replaced.
“We are weary with trying to always just cut and cut, and cut. And I don’t think the public at large is aware of how hard we’ve fought to come out of this so that the services can still be provided to citizens,” Bentley said.
A current service the county is struggling with is the jail. Bentley said this month it had a recorded 700 plus inmateswhen the facility is only meant for 500. This alone adds to expenses of out-of-county inmate housing the budget must cover, an estimated $400,000 this year. But they’re services needed and required by the state.
The positive is Greene County’s sales tax returns are up two percent more than projected, and Bentley says industrial investments such as the expansions of Kraft and both hospitals will bring in more stability and jobs.
“All of those things are going well for growth in our county, and hopefully will pull us out of this,” Bentley said.
Five year plans are in the works to try and put the county in a better position. The budget also includes a field guide, a 2030 strategic plan that lists goals and a path for the county to follow.
After the failed use tax, Bentley says there might be talks about other forms of bringing in more revenue because future budgets aren’t certain.
“People feel a little bit uncomfortable with looking to the future as if it’s going to be a remedy for all this,” Bentley said.
Click here to learn more about the 2014 Greene County budget. For KSMU News, I’m Anna Thomas.