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Hernando County Commission faces $5.2 million budget shortfall

BROOKSVILLE — Faced with a $5.2 million general fund revenue shortfall, Hernando leaders will discuss budget ideas today that include closing parks and cutting at least 38 more county jobs.

Elected constitutional officers have also been invited to talk about how their offices will be affected by the $2.4 million they are expected to absorb when the County Commission meets in a workshop at 9 a.m.

For several years, reserves have helped offset drastic cuts in revenue from property taxes, but those funds have dried up. The 2012 budget is being formulated to include no new revenue such as fees or a tax rate increase.

From 2007 through 2011, the departments under the County Commission have reduced the full-time-equivalent number of employees by 234, with 151 coming from the general fund and the rest from all other funds. This year, officials anticipate 25 staff reductions under the general fund and another 13 from other funds.

Other details of those potential cuts are expected to be discussed during the workshop, and the first round of layoff notices would come later this month.

Travel expenses and cell phone stipends also have been cut from the budget, according to the backup materials provided for today's workshop. Issues slated for future discussion include the need for government broadcasting, costs at fleet services, and services and costs from other departments including tourism development, business development and the County Attorney's Office.

Also on the agenda is a discussion about county employee benefits, including presentations on health insurance options by both the county's broker and a representative of the Teamsters Union's insurance provider, Central States Funds.

Commissioners also have asked to talk about changes in some employee benefits. A legal opinion from the County Attorney's Office indicates that limiting the amount of accrued paid time off employees are awarded when they are terminated for cause could not be enacted on the amount current employees have been promised.

If the county negotiates a change in policy with the Teamsters Union, such a policy could be used into the future.

Possible furloughs and cutting the number of holidays are also on the table for discussion.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando County Commission faces $5.2 million budget shortfall 05/02/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 2, 2011 10:35pm]

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