For Leanne DeLoach, this year's budget battles weren't so bad.
"I think because of the past three years, (Columbia County's department heads) realize that they've just got to trim back as much as possible," said Columbia County's finance director.
Columbia County's general fund - the part of the budget that covers most of the county departments - grew by $1.2 million for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. That puts the general fund at $36,242,083.
The county proposed total $107 million budget - slated for tentative approval by county commissioners Tuesday night - does not include a tax increase. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Columbia County courthouse.
The general fund, however, does include more money for personnel. DeLoach split the general fund budget into three parts: personnel, capital requests and operating requests. Capital requests decreased by 9.44 percent - or $125,000 - while operating requests decreased by 2.4 percent or $305,000.
The 6.32 percent - roughly $1.33 million - increase in personnel requests can be traced directly to the county's jail, DeLoach said.
A couple of years ago - just as construction on the expansion of the county's detention center began - officials requested to hire 37 jailers and one major. Instead of hiring all the positions at once - and having employees for a jail that had yet to open - officials agreed to spread the hires over a couple of years.
Now the positions are filled and the salaries for the positions are coming out of the FY2003 budget.
"We finally got the full-year's impact for hiring all those detention officers," she said.
DeLoach said one reason the budget process went so smoothly was the county was able to deal with growth-related needs - like the jail personnel - had been funded in previous years, before serious budget tightening.
"The needs just weren't as big in the last couple of years," she said.
Part of it, too, was a learning curve - department heads are getting use to operating with less.
"We are finding more efficient ways to do things," she said. "We are doing more with less."
Columbia County's General Fund budget since 1998/1999
1998/1999 - $27,066,295
1999/2000 - $29,643,755
2000/2001 - $31,173,938
2001/2002 - $35,036,065
2002/2003 - $36,242,083
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