Thursday, June 24, 1999

Campbell Co. tightens belt

Will have to dig into reserve funds

Enquirer Contributor

        NEWPORT — Campbell County Fiscal Court on Wednesday passed a 1999-2000 budget county officials say includes as many cuts as can be made without sacrificing quality of services.

        The budget for the fiscal year that begins next Thursday calls for spending just under $20.3 million, compared with the present $19.3 million. But the county will also have to use about $950,000 of its $1.5 million reserve.

        “The budget is tighter than we've ever had it,” County Commissioner Roland Vories said. “This time last year, we spent the maximum on everything. We're not going to be able to do that this year.”

        Judge-executive Steve Pendery said withdrawing so much is not a problem because county departments are doing what they can to cut expenses without sacrificing quality of service.

        “We're going to manage our way out of it,” he said.

        The new budget includes:

        • Just over $4.8 million in the transit authority fund.

        • About $2.1 million in the general fund.

        • Just under $2.2 million for protection to persons and property.

        • Nearly $2.6 million for debt service.

        Mr. Pendery said the county is saving money in three ways:

        • There will be no raises for county employees next year, a move Mr. Pendery said would save about $200,000.

        • Several road projects will be postponed until next year.

        • The purchase of police cruisers will be put off until 2000 as well.

        Mr. Pendery also said merging the county's dispatch center with those in Newport and Fort Thomas would save money. Commissioners passed a measure to spend up to $10,000 on a six-month joint study.

        County Commissioner Bill Verst said money will get tighter still in coming years, especially since the county receives only $1,100 per $1 million in development — an amount he said is less than some fire districts get. But he also said the county should not carry large surpluses.

        “People pay enough taxes already,” Mr. Verst said. “Something has to give. We're not a bank; we're not supposed to carry large surpluses.”

        At least one agency, the county coroner's office, will suffer because it did not get the $2,400 it requested for new radios. It also needs to have its records of death certificates placed on computer.

        Coroner Mark Schweitzer said he drives to Alexandria to look for paper death certificates and uses his personal cellular telephone to call authorities at death scenes.

        Mr. Schweitzer said he has cut expenses by reducing the cost of records storage and finding cheaper body bags and closer locations for training for deputy coroners.

        Fiscal Affairs Director Dennis Geiger said Mr. Schweitzer's request for radios was not in the budget because his office was not represented at earlier planning sessions.


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