The McDuffie County Commission voted to adopt the 2005 budget Tuesday evening. The $11.1 million budget -- a 1.3 percent increase from last year -- came into balance with help from this year's unspent money.
According to County Manager Don Norton much cutting had to be done, but commissioners feel they didn't eliminate anything that wasn't expendable until better financial times.
"We do have a very conservative budget this year," Mr. Norton said. "We cut out a good bit more in the way of capital expenditures, and an awful lot of governments are going through that right now."
Two things approved in the new budget that were considered long shots just weeks ago were a new 911 system and a salary increase program for county employees.
Commissioners had to tweak the budget to be able to fund replacement of the 11-year-old system that 911 Director Tracy Neal said "could go at any moment." The new system will be on a five-year lease.
Cut from original budget projections were two voting machines, two self-contained breathing apparatuses for EMA, three vehicles for various departments and a tractor and motor grader from the road department.
After having two major items pulled from next year's budget, the road department will have to make do with outdated equipment for another year. But if it meant funding necessary services, department director Chris Pelly didn't mind too much.
"The 911 system, we can't do without something like that," Mr. Pelly said. "The pain's not as great I guess, knowing that it's going to go to the 911 system."
Overall, the budget is a tight one, according to Mr. Norton. But he said next year's budget will be able to pick up some of the slack because of a potential upswing in the economy.
"I'm pretty confident things are turning around," he said.
Hospital asks county for funding again
McDuffie Regional Medical Center CEO Doug Kier brought a host of employees and county residents to ask the County Commission for money to fund indigent care deficits during the Aug. 17 commission meeting. Commissioners did not include the funding in their budget for 2005.
Jay's Cafe on hold
The McDuffie County Commission voted on Aug. 17 to hold off until next month on deciding whether or not to rezone the former T & W Lounge for commercial use.
The owners of the cafe blamed Planning Board employees for drawing out the process long enough for them to lose their exempt status in regards to zoning. Commissioners hope to hear from county inspectors and the fire marshall's office before making a final decision.