County Balances Budget Early, Plans To Add No New Programs

SNOW
HILL – While there will be no new taxes levied in Worcester County this year to
make up for lean revenues, there will in turn be no new initiatives, a measure
taken to ensure a balanced budget.

“No
new programs anywhere in the schools or in the county,” County Commissioner
Louise Gulyas.

The
county did pick up some after-school programs, previously paid for through
grants, which saw their funding dry up.

“They
were really the only new things we did,” said Gulyas said.

The
County Commissioners balanced the budget early this year despite the need to cut
$23.5 million from staff requests. Between county departments and the Board of
Education, budget requests hit $197.6 million, against projected revenues of
$174.1 million.

While
the commissioners were faced with a large gulf between the requested budget and
the anticipated revenues this year, a far cry from the bounty of fiscal year
2007, projected revenues include an increase of $14 million.

Last
year the commissioners used increased revenue generated by higher property tax
assessments to fund nearly the entire requested budget, even after cutting the
property tax by three cents.

“All
of the county requests, all of our departments really had reasonable requests,”
said Commissioner Linda Busick. “They didn’t put in any extraneous needs.”

As
usual, public attention centered on the schools budget, with the majority of
speakers at the early May budget hearing asking for full school funding.

“We
cut a lot out of the school budgets,” Gulyas said.

Busick,
who was elected last fall, said, “We have so many expenses with the new school
construction. The school population hasn’t grown much.”

Teachers
and staff will get raises, however.

“They
got what they needed and so did the county,” Gulyas said. “I feel we have to
support our teachers and staff. They’re good people and they do a good job.”

Although
the county has limited hiring for this fiscal year, the commissioners did allot
the schools seven new positions.

The
exact amount of funding assigned to the schools and other departments will not
be available until next week, according to county spokesperson Kim Moses.

Gulyas related the
role of commissioner during the budget process to being “a mother at
Christmas.”

“You’ll all get
something but you won’t get everything you ask for,” Gulyas said.

Busick added,
“There’s so many needs throughout the county. We’re doing the best we can with
what we got.” 

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