A balanced budget is what McDuffie County officials are more than hoping for.
With current numbers showing a 2006 fiscal year budget that is $150,000 out of balance, it's not quite back to the drawing board for County Manager Don Norton. He said at a recent budget work session that he still has some tweaking to do.
And that doesn't include equipment that the Road Department needs for projects and normal maintenance. Mr. Norton said the best option may be a lease-purchase agreement that would not place a heavy financial burden on the county all at once.
"In effect we can balance that budget just if we deal with the equipment sort of separate from the operating budget," he said.
Last year's budget process saw the sacrifice of several of the road department's major equipment requests because increased property tax exemptions left the county with no increase in revenue.
In this budget, Road Department Director Chris Pelly told commissioners aging gear needs to be replaced before rising steel prices drive the heavy equipment prices even higher. Included on that list is a $200,000 motor grader, a $180,000 front end loader, a $90,000 tractor and an $80,000 dump truck.
Mr. Norton said that since all property values in McDuffie County have been reevaluated, there should be an eight percent rise in revenue. That comes out to about $200,000.
"That certainly comes in handy. It's better than last year," Mr. Norton said.
But it won't be enough to include many of the big-ticket requests from department heads.
"Most of those simply aren't going to happen," Mr. Norton said. "I don't see how we're going to be able to work those into the program right now."
A public hearing on the county budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on July 26 at the courthouse. Adoption of the budget is scheduled for the regular commission meeting on Aug. 3.