Supervisors adopt mid-year budget reductions

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - At their Feb. 16 regular meeting, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted mid-year budget reductions proposed by County Manager Steve Peru. The budget reductions, which total $3 million, offset revenue shortfalls from the continuing economic decline and State cost shifts.

The adopted budget cuts will allow the County to balance their overall budget through June 30. These cuts will set the stage for the Board of Supervisors to balance revenues and expenditures in FY11, which will likely result in a decrease in service levels countywide.

The current recommendations include a combination of departmental budget reductions in the amount of $1.5 million, and the use of $1.5 million in General Fund balances and reserves. The use of the General Fund balances and reserves follows the County's financial plan that began in 2007, which sets aside funds for the County to use during recessionary periods to offset revenue shortfalls.

Remaining fund balances, including emergency reserves and revenue smoothing, will be maintained for potential additional State cuts and cost shifts and future revenue shortfalls.

The departmental cuts consist of operational budget reductions and the continuation of the current hiring freeze through this fiscal year. The vacancies created due to the hiring freeze will be used to create opportunities for employees who could be moved from reduced programs into programs that will continue into next year, and avoid layoffs whenever possible. The County's current vacancy rate is at 12 percent, or over 110 positions.

On Feb. 2, the Board of Supervisors, County Elected Officials and the County's Department Directors convened a budget summit to discuss all potential budget solutions. There was a follow-up meeting on Feb. 11 to continue discussions and finalize the recommendations that County Manager Steve Peru carried forward for Board consideration.

The Board of Supervisors, Elected Officials and Department Directors agreed to voluntarily take two furlough days between now and the end of June. Employees may also voluntarily reduce their hours up to 50 percent for the remainder of this fiscal year. Other employee solutions considered were mandatory furloughs, retirement incentives, voluntary separation incentives, pay and/or benefit reductions. In the County's ongoing effort to keep employees whole and maintain service levels, these solutions were not brought forward in the final recommendation. However, all solutions, including these, will be considered in the FY11 budget process, which will take into account impacts to citizens countywide.

The following departmental budget cuts do not reflect position reductions or vacancy savings. Some department proposals were evaluated and determined to negatively impact citizen services, and were not included in the final recommendation.

For more information, call Deputy County Manager Mike Townsend at (928) 679-7130; toll-free (877) 679-7120.

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