Those decisions don’t often come easily.
Union County — like other governmental bodies — faces a fiscal year 2010-11 with less state funding, limited avenues to generate additional revenue and eventual increases in expenditures.
County council continued its budget work sessions on Wednesday afternoon. Members heard requests from several outside agencies: Boogaloo, Union County YMCA, Union County Council on Aging, Youth Leadership and the Union County Arts Council; Union County Clerk of Court Freddie Gault; and Union County Treasurer Dianne Wilkins.
Each of the agencies and departments that have presented to the council admit this year’s budget is tight but are asking council to find some way to lend financial aid to their causes.
Supervisor Tommy Sinclair reminded council Wednesday, however, there are services essential to the operation of county government that must come first.
Tommy Ford reminded his fellow council members of that as well and said if the county is going to make cuts in its next budget the council should start with the “luxuries” — those items outside what is absolutely needed.
Sinclair added the county has to not only provide the essential services but also needs to protect them. He reiterated his point from Tuesday’s first budget session that it would be prudent for council members to keep an eye not only on this year’s budget but also that for fiscal year 2011-12.
“We can’t burn it all this year,” he said.
These types of financial decisions bring with them strong feelings.
Council members began to discuss their options between presentations on Wednesday afternoon — one of which is the thought of possibly making a 3 percent across the board cut, a measure Joey English says would save the county roughly $300,000.
But not all council members agree with that solution.
Dora Martin and Kacie Petrie argued by making a blanket cut the county would be taking too much away from agencies like the council on aging or Union Disabilities and Special Needs Board. They advocate a more deliberative track of going through the budget line by line and deciding how much each item is funded rather than just a straight across-the-board cut.
Council members each have items, departments and agencies they have strong feelings about.
“And that’s what it’s all about,” Sinclair said.
But Randall “Chump” Hanvey said the council shouldn’t let personal feelings play into the decisions it will have to make regarding the next fiscal year budget.
“We’ve got to remember, it wasn’t us who put us here,” he said.
“But we have to lay down and sleep at night,” Petrie said.
Regardless, Sinclair reminded council members it’s those decisions that have to be made.
“That’s the responsibility,” he said.
Council will continue its budget discussions today (Thursday, April 8) at 3:30 p.m. in the law library on the third floor of the Union County Courthouse.