For the second time in two weeks, McDuffie County commissioners got together at a work session to discuss budget woes for fiscal year 2008.
And once again, the elected officials are seeing a shortfall - this time some $250,000 shy of what they need to complete a balanced budget, according to Chairman Charlie Newton.
"We're about a quarter of a million dollars short right now from balancing the budget," Mr. Newton told fellow commissioners, department heads and others during Monday night's two hour-plus budget work session.
There will be at least two, if not three more budget work sessions before commissioners will have proposed figures ready for the purpose of adopting a new budget, predicted county Manager Don Norton.
"We may have a proposed budget ready in about three weeks," Mr. Norton said.
In Monday night's work session, a host of department heads from various levels of county government attended and talked about certain needs and the anticipated costs of such requests.
One of those was Sheriff Logan Marshall, who emphasized the importance of getting additional manpower because of continued growth and the amount of calls being received by his office.
The sheriff pointed out that deputies can't continue to answer calls like they have been doing because arrival times are getting worse.
In 2005, Sheriff Marshall said, some 14,000 calls were responded to by deputies with a response time of 9 1/2 minutes. In 2006, there were 16,660 calls responded to by deputies with a response time of 11 1/2 minutes.
Present response time is averaging about 14 1/2 minutes, Sheriff Marshall said.
The sheriff has proposed an increase of 10 more staff personnel. The extra manpower would be for jailers, deputies and an additional investigator. The projected cost of such personnel would come to $409,400.
In his proposal, Sheriff Marshall had agreed to trim the overtime within his department if he could get additional personnel. That figure was estimated at $150,000, annually.
Some of the additional staff for the sheriff's department being requested is likely to be funded under the special Schedule II-B Proposed New Program/Level of Service. The stipulation is that the sheriff will have to manage the overtime hours, Chairman Newton said.
The exact number of additional personnel for the sheriff's department was not discussed.
Commissioners also talked with several other department heads about their proposed budgets.
One of them included McDuffie Fire/Rescue Services/EMA Chief Bruce Tanner.
In the county's Emergency Management Agency budget, Chief Tanner is requesting $6,000 in funding to purchase a new motor for the dive team boat.
And within the fire department, he is seeking a little more than $11,000 as compensation to those who recently were promoted under the proposed re-organizational structure of the county fire/rescue services.
"This is a way of rewarding them for taking on more responsibility," Chief Tanner said. "I think it needs some serious consideration."
Other department heads, meanwhile, asked for additional personnel. Those departments included: IT, Tax Assessors' Office, Clerk of Superior Court's Office, Finance Department and the Public Defender's Office.