MADISON - Boone County's elected officials met on Wednesday to explore ideas that could reduce the county's dwindling budget and relieve the stress that has been placed on each office to find ways to save resources.
"This is just a discussion between elected officials and your administrator to express thoughts and concerns regarding our budget," said Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph.
Each county office was required to make an 8% budget cut in April, with some departments forced to lay off county employees.
With merely weeks to go before the fiscal year resets on July 1, Boone County is approximately $400,000 short of meeting their budget, according to county officials.
"We know this is coming," said Boone County Sheriff Randall White in the meeting. "Unless something magically appears for us. If I lose people in the tax office, we're doomed. If my office don't run, nobody runs. If I lose six or eight deputies, I don't know what we'd do."
A discussion progressed regarding eliminating all outside agencies unrelated to essential government offices. According to Randolph, this would save the county $511,000.
The county currently has $1.9 million in its rainy day fund, but as Randolph noted, the county could burn through the savings quickly if it relied on it as a solution.
Boone County Clerk Roger Toney expressed a desire to reassess the cost of employee insurance plans and through careful oversight, carve away any careless utility spending, specifically electricity.
Commissioner Craig Bratcher proposed that the county should take a deeper look at absorbing parks as Logan County did nearly two decades ago.
"I've been saying that if we want to see what a smaller budget looks like, we need to look at someone like Lincoln County who has dealt with a smaller budget for a long time," Randolph said.
Lincoln County operates on a $3 million budget with a projected revenue of $3 million. Boone County has a projected revenue of $4.7 million. Lincoln County's outside agencies (parks and recreation, economic development, etc.) are no longer supported by the county and they stand independently, becoming resourceful regarding available grants to sustain their services. Lincoln County carries no community centers, having donated two of them to community organizations and one to parks and recreation.
County officials are looking at scenarios that could withstand a projected $2.5 million cut in the next fiscal year.
One option showed another reduction in budgets for the commission, courthouse and other buildings coupled with the complete elimination of outside agencies. Those maneuvers would generate $1.2 million according to research conducted by Randolph.
Options for home confinement and managing the county jail bill were on the table. Peak months for the jail bill were October and November when it reached $100,000 monthly.
"We're not going to prosecute our cases based on money," Randolph told elected officials. "If we have people that we feel need to be incarcerated, we'll do that."
Boone County Commissioner Brett Kuhn spoke via text message after the meeting.
"I think that some of the ideas (discussed) have merit," he said. "All things have to be on the table."
The Boone County Commission meets for their regular session on June 18 at 3:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Boone County Courthouse annex.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.