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County Council, February 26, 2009

A very tough year coming up
But not for CARTA!

Warwick Jones

The County Administrator told the Finance Committee tonight that the state was planning to cut its contribution to the County next fiscal year by 42%. This follows on a significant cut this year. The reduction in State funds and other revenue forced the County over the last 2 months to cut $7.5 million from the original Fiscal 2009 budget. The reduction in State funds for Fiscal 2010 amounts to $7.8 million. Apart from sucking wind, there was no reaction from Council members. But we are sure that Council members will be doing some heavy pondering in the coming weeks.

The budget of the General Fund for fiscal 2009 (to June) was about $160 million and that for 2010 is unlikely to be much more and indeed may need to be lower. The loss of $7.8 million is obviously significant. Could it be made up, at least partially, by the receipt of “stimulus funds”? Apparently not, we were told. The County will have to find a way to deal with the fall either by cutting services …or raising taxes and fees.

CARTA to get $7.5 million hand out
Then there was the news dropped by Council member Condon who serves on the CARTA Board. The bus company is to receive $7.5 million in federal stimulus funds. Of the total, $4.75 million will go to replace existing buses. Some council member exclaimed that this will take some of the burden off the county. But as the funds that go to CARTA come from the half-cent sales tax, the Capital Budget of the County will be unaffected.

And a more rigorous process for appointing Commissioners and Board members
As for items on the agenda, there was little to comment on. Council agreed on a new application form for aspiring board and commissioner members to complete. Applicants will be asked now to attend the Finance Committee meeting where their appointments may be discussed. They may also be questioned by Committee members at these meetings. However attendance is not mandatory and applicants can append documents to support their application. The new form will also warn applicants that background checks will be made of them. Council also decided that no citizen could serve on two boards or commissions concurrently.

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