Because of the shortfall of projected revenues compared to projected expenditures, the Blount County general fund was about $256,000 short as projected for 2012.
To offset the shortfall, several steps were taken:
The commission approved a modified prescription-drug program to reduce administrative cost, keep health care premiums affordable, and continue the county’s paying 85 percent of premiums, with employees paying the remaining 15 percent.
No raises or increases were given to fulltime employees, including elected officials.
Allocations to several outside agencies were reduced by five percent.
Economic development continues to be a priority in order to encourage the expansion of the local retail tax base. The priority is reflected in the budget by significant support of the Blount County/ Oneonta Chamber of Commerce, as well as smaller funding amounts to the Regional Planning Commission and the Birmingham Business Alliance.
The rising cost of road maintenance materials continues to place a severe strain on the county’s effort to maintain roads and bridges. Without a significant increase in revenues, the county cannot adequately maintain the many roads that are in need of repair. The 2012 district road budgets do increase from 6 percent to 10 percent, depending on the district, but the increase is not enough to have a major effect on the maintenance backlog.
The formula used to compute district road budgets in effect since 2006 was changed this year. By that formula, the allocation for District 1 was about 8 percent greater than for Districts 2, 3, and 4, all of which received equal, smaller amounts. For 2012, District 2 receives an additional percentage allocation in acknowledgment of its greater number of road miles. The resulting percentage allocation of the total district road budget is as follows: District 1: 26 percent ($977,347); District 2: 25 percent ($934,254); Districts 3 and 4: 24 percent each ($903,734).
The overall county roads and highways budget projection decreased from $5,811,380 in 2011 to $5,128,490 in 2012. Actual roads and highways expense last year was $7,339,556, as a result of additions made to the budget during the year. It is conceivable such additions could be made during the 2012 fiscal year as a result of contingent circumstances.
The county has significantly reduced expense at the county landfill by reducing the amount of commercial waste accepted there. As a result, the projected expenditure for 2012 is $269,153, a saving of $627,353 over the cost of operating the landfill last year.
The county is free of long-term debt, having paid the last installment earlier this year.
Eliminated from the 2012 budget were expenditures of $184,502 associated with the county shop. The shop has been absorbed into the operations of District 3, which now has a district office and garage comparable to the other three districts.
County department heads were given a level funding alert before work began on the 2012 budget, in effect limiting department budgets to no more than the same amount budgeted last year. In one or two instances the level funding bogey was exceeded slightly for extraordinary 2012 expenses.