Months of struggling to cut costs and balance the county's 2010-11 budget will begin to wind down Tuesday when the Hernando County Commission conducts the first of two public hearings on the spending plan. Once at $10.4 million, the gap between revenue and expenses in the general fund was trimmed to just $281,851 last week. The hearing is at 5 p.m. at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 N Main St., Brooksville. The final hearing and budget and tax rate approval will be at 5 p.m. Sept. 28.
Budget issues already settled
• The BUS was saved by using transportation trust fund dollars to pay the matching costs.
• The Little Rock Cannery was saved by an anonymous donor who contributed the total operating budget for the facility. The county legal staff is studying whether the county's tourist tax can fund the facility in the future.
• Further reductions in library services were avoided by spending library grant dollars to run the facilities rather than general fund money.
• Sixteen positions in Parks and Recreation and most parks slated for closure were saved by implementing new fees. The commission rejected using the sensitive land funds for future park maintenance costs.
• Reduced hours, fewer services and the elimination of the spay and neuter rebate program brought the county's Animal Services budget into balance.
• To offset the revenue shortfall, the county used $3 million in reserves, the last year the reserve money will be available. Another $660,000 was not set aside for reserves after commissioners changed the county's reserve policy.
Budget issues not yet settled
• County Administrator David Hamilton's management reorganization has a tentative approval from the commission, but specific details about transferring individuals and eliminating positions have not been approved.
• Other positions were not built into the budget, including a code enforcement officer, a secretary in the cooperative extension office and a health and human services specialist, but some commissioners don't want to lay off any more employees.
• A salary study of nonunion supervisory personnel is expected to be completed by the time of the final public hearing as the commission considers salary changes.
• Commissioners ordered a new plan on how to cut spending for Mosquito Control that will not affect the amount of mosquito spraying.
• County purchasing and contracts activities are currently being headed up by a consultant hired by the Clerk of the Circuit Court. A final structure for county purchasing has not yet been settled.
County personnel changes
• The 2009-10 budget included 243 full-time equivalent employees under the County Commission; the 2010-11 budget includes 204.
• The 2009-10 budget included 1,272 full-time equivalent employees, including the constitutional officers and enterprise funds; the 2010-11 budget includes 1,334 — a number that accounts for more than 100 new hires for the sheriff to run the jail.