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Moves adjust 2009 county budget
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County commissioners on Tuesday made official budget cuts approved last year in preparation for the 2009 budget, as well as recent cost-savings measures.

The result: A small surplus as year’s end approaches.

When the commission voted on this year’s budget in late 2008, it approved 5-percent across-the-board cuts for county departments.

Chief Financial Officer Bill Thomas explained Tuesday that the numbers were not tallied in the 2009 budget until recently.

“Back last December, whenever the budget was approved ... we put a negative number in everybody’s budget and said, ‘You will have to cut by 5 percent,’” Thomas said.

In March of this year, some department heads came to him and said they were not sure they could reach that mark in their individual budgets, Thomas said.

“In October, we went to all of the departments and said, ‘Give us whatever you can give us,’” Thomas said. “‘Tell us what you can reduce.’ That produced significant reductions.”

Commissioner Jim Boff was curious why the 5-percent budget cuts were not accounted for to begin with.

“If I heard you correctly, we asked departments for 5-percent reductions and they had time to think about it, and they came back and said, ‘We don’t know if we can do it.’” Boff said. “But now you say we’re going to reduce anyway?”

Boff voted against a resolution before the commission Tuesday that lowers the 2009 budget from $84.1 million to $77.9 million, based on departmental reductions and savings from the contingency and capital funds.

The resolution passed 3-1 with Boff opposed. Chairman Charles Laughinghouse was absent.

After the vote, Boff said the board has “cut too much from our employees. Too much, too soon.”

The revised budget for 2009 includes $77.9 million in revenues for the county and $77.1 million in expenditures, creating an $800,000 surplus in the general fund.

Thomas said reductions in the budget were “a combined effort from every department.”

“They really worked hard to do this,” he said.

The departmental efforts gave the county about $3.6 million to work with. The use of capital project funding, and vehicle transfer and contingency savings further offset the projected deficit.

Commissioners likely soon will begin looking at the 2010 budget, which has a projected $14 million budget shortfall.