The process of coming up with a budget that matches projected revenues with expenditures officially got underway on July 13 when the Wayne County Commissioners adopted the county’s tax budget for 2012.
In a public hearing on the tax budget, Wayne County Budget Director Carol Zemrock noted that the tax budget differs substantially from the county’s actual appropriations budget, characterizing the tax budget as “an expression of what people would like to be able to do as opposed to what has been authorized.”
While the tax budget doesn’t reflect the appropriations each elected official will actually receive when the budget is passed in January, it does provide a first look at revenue estimates for 2012 and kicks off the discussions on the appropriations budget.
“Over the next six months we will go into detail to bring the requests for appropriations in line with the anticipated revenue,” said Zemrock.
According to Commissioner Scott Wiggam, the commissioners will start meeting with their fellow elected officials to begin the process of hammering out the actual 2012 budget.
The starting place for that process is the requests submitted to Zemrock as part of the tax budget preparation process.
“There is obviously a difference between the amount desired and the amount of revenues that we will have. That will all begin to happen now going forward as we prepare for the actual appropriations budget,” said Wiggam.
“What will have to happen is the expression of what is intended to be spent will have to be brought into line with the cash balance and the total revenue that is estimated at the time,” said Zemrock adding, “the budget that we do pass in January will be balanced to the penny.”
With expenditure requests totaling $22.8 million and anticipated revenues of $20.3 million, just under $2.5 million will need to be shaved from the budget requests.
While that $2.5 million figure is substantial, Zemrock noted that this year, “the discrepancy between the revenue and the expenditures is smaller” than it has been in recent years.
Commissioner Ann Obrecht noted that during the 2008 tax budget process, the county’s elected officials and department heads requested $5 million more in appropriations than the 2008 revenue estimates. For 2012, the gap between expected revenues and appropriation requests is less than half that amount.
Another factor that is moving in the right direction is the county’s cash balance as of mid year.
While the county had to dip into its cash balance to get through 2007, 2008 and 2009, “in 2011 we have added to that cash balance by over $1.5 million,” said Zemrock, attributing the turn around to a slight increase in revenue coupled with a slight decrease in expenditures.
“We’ve lost over $1 million of revenue, but we’ve managed to add to the cash balance by over $1.5 million,” said Zemrock adding, “I think that’s a remarkable achievement.”
Zemrock noted that she is hopeful that the county’s cash balance will help the county “absorb some of the changes that are going to come through from the state.
“I think we anticipated some negative changes coming about there and I think that the budget that passed is going to prove that out,” said Zemrock adding, “we are once again just trying to be ahead of what is going to come down between now and the next fiscal year for the state.
“It may not be enough but it certainly is a start,” said Zemrock.
Published: July 19, 2011