MOUNT VERNON — County Auditor Jonette Curry met with the board of commissioners Thursday afternoon to begin budget hearings in anticipation of the tight 2010 budget. Curry had crunched numbers thoroughly before the meeting and came armed with two alternate ways to handle the budget.
Both scenarios involved cutting her department’s expenses back to a bare minimum. Those cutbacks alone get the auditor’s office up to a cut of $42,471, which is well on the way to the commissioners’ goal of cutting $52,286 (20 percent) from her budget. But Curry pointed out the technicality that her department can actually exceed the requested cut by over $1,500 if budgetary software license and service contracts are classified under the data board category in the general fund, as they formerly were.
The data board fund, for computer-related expenses, is however still a part of the general fund, which must be reduced by 20 percent to account for falling county revenue in the recent recession.
Curry was optimistic about solving the budget difficulties without having to close her office one day per week. She added that a number of other heads of department located in the Knox County Service Building on East High Street were similarly positive.
“I think everyone’s of the understanding that we’re going to be open five days a week,” Curry said. “We’ll review everything after the first quarter and determine where we stand with everyone working together.”
The commissioners were pleased with her numbers and said they were very helpful in reaching the goal of 20 percent cuts.
Curry said she hoped that the economy picked up quickly enough that the first quarter review allows the county to relax the most stringent cuts, but she said for now she would stick by that figure.
“I’d rather be conservative going into 2010 than be on the high end,” Curry said.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger agreed.
“Mid-year corrections are brutal,” he said, referring to this year’s mid-year adjustment.
The numbers will be refined in December and finalized in January.