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January 28, 2014

Floyd County budget certified; potential layoffs averted

Only $18,000 expected left in general fund at end of year

NEW ALBANY — Floyd County was due for a little good news, and the Department of Local Government Finance obliged.

The DLGF recently certified the county’s 2014 budget which was projected to be $2.9 million short when it was sent to the state late last year. But due to cost-cutting measures, and a significant bump in the property tax levy and EDIT funds, the county will be able to function without having to make layoffs.

“I figured draconian cuts would have to be made,” said Floyd County Council President Jim Wathen.

When the county received its certified budget, the property tax levy increased by $500,000 over last year and an extra $400,000 came from economic-development income taxes.

The $900,000 along with the $1.5 million cash balance the county had when 2013 ended from the council making 25 percent across the board cuts, along with other cost-cutting savings, eliminated the projected budget deficit. However, the county is expected to have only $18,000 in the general fund at the end of the year.

“If anything happens, we are still behind the eight ball,” Wathen said.

Wathen also said he is pleased with the news and the certified budget since the county didn’t have to eliminate jobs or raise taxes, but said he wants to find out why the property tax levy increased by $500,000. He also said the council will still have to look for ways to make cuts and save money.

“We have a committee looking at different properties. If those properties are costing us money and if we can do without them, we will look at that,” Wathen said. “We are always looking for ways to cut duplication.”

Council members say several factors contributed to the county winding up in a financial mess. Three David Camm murder trials cost the county more than $3 million, the William Clyde Gibson III murder trial cost around $400,000, and in 2012, members said they were given wrong figures from former auditor Darin Cottington in the fall, when preparing the 2013 budget, which led to a $2.4 million deficit. Cottington left office May 1, 2013.

While there are still concerns, getting the 2014 budget certified without having to eliminate jobs or services is a win for the county, officials said.

“I am cautiously optimistic with the results and feel that with continued fiscal management by the county council, the county can start to turn the corner,” said Floyd County Auditor Scott Clark.

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