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County walking tightrope formulating next year’s budget

The line is already forming at the Ray County Commissioner’s chambers because it’s budget time.
Commissioners held a public hearing last week, and different county entities are taking turns making their case before the commissioners for appropriations.
Presiding Commissioner Jeff Adams said fuel and energy costs are going up annually stretching the dollars thinner each year while revenues continue to fall.
County Treasurer JoAnn Burnine said the downward trend continues into the holiday season. She said sales tax revenues continue to be down from last year.
Adams said the county projected a 10 percent growth rate each year when forming the budget. He said that stopped about 2004 and projections have been stagnant.
Western Commissioner Allen Dale said he and other commissioners were concerned the county wouldn’t make it to the end of the year, but now it appears the county will have enough money to pay the bills.
“It doesn’t matter what we project, it will be down,” Dale said about the projection of revenues. “We’re very lucky to be sitting where we’re at.”
Eastern Commissioner-Elect Mike Twyman has been sitting in with the commission on a regular basis much of this month, trying to get a grasp of the budget.
“There’s a lot more to this job than people realize,” Twyman said.
Twyman said he realizes there will have to be tough decisions made concerning spending next year.
“There’s going to have to be belt tightening for everybody,” Twyman said. “That’s just the cold hard facts.”
The commission has received some good news. Some insurance quotes the county has received have come in slightly lower than last year.
The commission expects to have a preliminary budget ready by mid January. The budget will be finalized by Jan. 30.

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