Clay County Courthouse Clock Tower

Cuts the Clay County Commission made in the 2010 budget last week will be difficult, two county department heads said Monday.

Sheriff Chuck Dunn objected to budget cuts the Clay County Commission made and Highway Administrator Steve Liby said his budget will be "close" if the county decides to do all the "catch up" that was planned for this year. The county is counting on a large carry over from this year's budget to help get them through next year.

Liby presented an estimate of road oil for sealing 45 miles in the county, including $323,640 for oil on 30 miles in the northeast part of the county around Green, and $161,820 on 10 miles of Broughton Road and five miles of Utah Road. That doesn't include the chips, 200 tons of which Liby said he has yet to purchase.

Center line paint for all of this work plus work that has already been done in the county will cost $12,736.80, Liby said.

Commissioners asked Liby if he could afford to pay for the roadwork if he had the $250,000 the commission removed from his 2009 budget for fuel.

Liby said it would be close, but he thought it could be done. Commissioners have built next year's budget expecting a large carry over, including the $250,000 from Road and Bridge.

Commissioners took no action on the oil for sealing 45 miles or the center line paint at Monday's meeting because Liby asked them to table it for discussion and until he has a better handle on the budget.

"I am able to do it and I know we can do it," Liby said.

The county has invested about $600,000 already this year laying down new asphalt on 13 miles around Morganville, and parts of Broughton Road and the part of Utah Road around Green.

Liby said years ago the Highway Department started a rotation of sealing a fourth of the county each year that he would like get back on and stay on.

Commission Chairman Mike Spicer said the county hasn't "cut back so much that we're falling apart."

Liby also said the sharp increase in the price of road oil has made budgeting difficult for his department.

"What we're paying for road oil is up 25 percent from what we paid for it four year ago," he said.

On other expenditures this year, Liby said he "comfortable" the amount of salt and sand he has will get him through November or December, depending on how wet the fall is.

The Sheriff wasn't as comfortable with what was cut from his budget. Dunn raised objection to the two replacement vehicles and $39,000 being cut from his budget proposal.

Commissioners said removing the two vehicles and cutting back coverage from 24-hour service were ways the commission had discussed in determining whether the department could afford to take a cut but the proposal was not set in stone.

Dunn said cutting $39,000 from his proposal, about six percent of his budget, brings his budget back to under 2008 levels. The Sheriff's department was budgeted the same amount in 2009 as it had spent in 2008, $637,307.

Commissioners said they actually cut closer to $30,000, about 4.7 percent of his 2008 budget, after the auditor plugged in the numbers.

Dunn asked what other departments had been cut back to 2008 levels.

Road and Bridge had taken "a bigger hit," but most departments were cut to about what they were in 2009, Spicer told Dunn.

"Fortunately we didn't have to have a 10 percent cut across the board," Spicer said.

Dunn said he has three vehicles that are over 100,000 miles.

"We want to keep vehicles so when we take them on a call, they can make it on a call (without breaking down)," Dunn said.

County department heads, including Dunn, Liby EMS Director Pam Kemp, Landfill/Noxious Weed Director Gailen Tyrell, also asked for clarification on the $100 spending limit, hiring freeze and other budget concerns. The limit covers new items, not routine purchases or routine replacement of supplies, commissioners said.

Commissioners said the ambulance staff will not be included in the hiring freeze and gave Dunn permission to replace a deputy who had resigned.

Liby said having one employee in the hospital and not filling other open positions makes him short a total of four people.

In other county news:

-- Commissioners donated $350 to Longford Fun Day out of the Alcohol Fund.

-- The commission granted Kemp permission to join the MARCER purchasing group at a pro-rated membership of $145.80 for the remainder of 2009. A year's membership is $350 and "will pay for itself," Kemp said.

-- Commissioners went into executive session under confidential data/trade secrets with Economic Development Director Jami Williams and Keith Gilmore, Intertech Industries. Following the 15-minute executive session, commissioners instructed Williams to work on a project and report to them next week.

-- The commission granted Tyrell permission to take bids for a new building that will be used for recycling. The bids will be opened 10 a.m. Aug. 31.

-- Commissioners signed an agreement with Schwab-Eaton, P.A. to provide annual bridge inspections of 12 bridges for $1,200.