More cuts likely are coming as Columbia County officials continue to pare down a budget proposal for the next fiscal year.
The expected $54.6 million in revenues for 2010-11 is 3.3 percent less than initially projected and is based on no growth in the county's tax digest, according to figures released during a Tuesday meeting.
Expenses have been cut nearly 5 percent, to $53.7 million, from what initially was projected.
The decrease reflects a reduction of about 5 percent in sales tax collections this fiscal year.
As officials continue to debate the budget, other cuts to the county's general fund might include cutting $650,000 in utilities, salaries and fuel costs through flexible work scheduling and reducing employee hours; reducing funding for such state agencies at the Driver Services, the Extension Service and Forestry by $155,493; and reducing the county's match to employee retirement funds from 50 percent to 25 percent to save $500,000.
Commissioners also could eliminate $130,000 in grants to service organizations, such as Fort Discovery, the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon and the Kroc Center.
Using those measures and others, the county could save as much as $2.2 million in expenditures.
Officials also are considering eliminating or reducing non-essential programs, raising fees on some services, and cutting staff by reorganizing county departments and more effectively using online services.
No new hires are expected for next fiscal year.
"I think this is the first time we've seen that in 20 years," said County Administrator Steve Szablewski.
Already the county has saved more than $2.3 million by eliminating several positions, paying off a Development Authority bond, canceling a janitorial services contract, curtailing the Fleet Replacement Fund and cutting contributions to community centers.
Szablewski said that many of the cuts are not recommendations, but options to be considered.
"We should pursue all options at this point," Commissioner Trey Allen said. "If it doesn't work out, fine."
A public hearing to discuss the budget will be held May 4, and a final budget review will be held May 18. The commission is expected to adopt the budget on June 1.
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