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Commissioners working daily to formulate budget

Ray County Commissioners are meeting on a daily basis trying to hammer out a budget.
The process can be difficult with an economic environment that is volatile and increasing costs.
To add to the confusion, the county is facing tax revenue shortfalls.
According to County Treasurer JoAnn Burnine, the county was down more than $44,000 for the year in sales tax revenues. She said those figures reflect numbers through October 2008. Commissioner Allen Dale said last month that the county ended the year with enough money to cover all costs.
The commissioners had an optimistic outlook however. Dale said he thinks more people shopped at home last year because of fuel prices, so the numbers could be worse. He thinks tax revenues will hold because the trend to shop at home will continue in his opinion.
Presiding Commissioner Jeff Adams said they are still waiting on four or five departments to submit budgets.
Dale said there have been no final decisions made on any portion of the budget, but did say department heads know what to expect.
“We’re not telling anybody no or yes at this point,” Dale said. “Everybody knows how tight it is and they’re not asking for more than what they think they’ll need.”
The commissioners said there probably will not be any raises this year either. With declining revenues, Adams said they want to keep everybody working.
“OK, we can give you a raise, but then we have to lay you off in April,” Adams said, explaining the dilemma.
Dale said the county is facing the same decisions that many families face when looking at their budgets.
“Every housewife in America is trying to put a meal on the table,” Dale said. “They know what they’ve got to do.”
Dale said despite signs of declining revenue, he does not foresee any drastic budget cuts this year.
Adams said the big elephant in the corner of the room is property taxes. He said County Assessor Kent Wollard’s office is trying to hold the line on property taxes; but if the local housing market declines, taxes may have to follow.
The commissioners will meet with members of MoDOT on Friday to discuss possible future road projects.

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