County begins budget meetings

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

With a tentative due date of May, Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen has begun work on the 2013-14 county budget.

Classen opened meetings with department heads from five different county departments on Wednesday with hopes of crafting the county’s next budget to present to the Rutherford County Commission during its May meeting.

“This is the first round of those discussions and, if everything is fine, it may be the last,” Classen said.

Classen met with the library, building inspections, information technology, Register of Deeds, Soil and Water, watershed and County Commission during the first round of budget discussion.

Despite opening budget talks Classen said that a budget goal session for the County Commission will provide a majority of the insight needed to craft the next fiscal year’s budget for the county.

County Commissioners have scheduled a goal-setting workshop for Friday and Saturday.

“I’ll be looking at the goal-setting session with the County Commission and see what resources are available to reach those goals,” Classen said.

The weekend session will start at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Classen said that all five commissioners have said they will attend.

“Apparently, there were goal-setting sessions in the past and we are trying to get the County Commission to establish their focus and that will allow us to take those goals from there,” Classen said.

County department leaders have submitted their budget requests to the Finance Department. From there, the requests are placed on a spreadsheet for examination during budget discussions.

“What I am seeing from the department heads is continuing the focus on maintaining services,” Classen said. “It’s not really an expansion of services unless it is something the County Commission has expressed as a need for expansion.”

Commissioners have expressed an interest in expanding funds for the farmers market and emergency telecommunications.

Last year, commissioners adopted a revenue-neutral tax rate for county taxes. Classen said that it was too early to tell where that tax rate will go for the next fiscal year.

“Obviously, if it is a maintenance budget, the goal is to maintain the current levels of services,” Classen said. “I will be really looking at things a lot in April and we will try to have the budget reflect the goals and where the County Commission wants action taken.”