Commissioners make no decision on road fund

YERINGTON -- Lyon County road department staffing will remain as is for the time being.

The county's rapid growth is creating an increase in demands for road improvements and repairs and placing considerable stress on dwindling road division revenues and resources. Public Works Director Chuck Swanson appeared before county commissioners last week, looking for some direction on how to curb projected funding shortfalls.

County commissioners postponed making any immediate decisions about possible personnel or organizational changes.

"They decided to wait for the next budget cycle before making any decisions," Swanson said. "I will do what we can for now and continue with the voluntary buyouts until that time."

The commissioners also said they would schedule a workshop before then to discuss finances.

If no unexpected expenditures are required, latest estimates would add approximately $300,000 to the road fund balance at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2003. This includes efforts by county road manager Gary Fried to maintain the status quo, savings gained by returning three road graders the county was using on a three-year lease-buy agreement, and curbing some proposed repair projects and other department budget cutbacks.

It is estimated the available revenue at the start of the next fiscal year will be $878,000.

In last month's election, an initiative for a sales tax increase from 6.5 percent to 7 percent was defeated by a 7,009 to 3,665 vote. The projected $800,000 in additional revenue would be for the road fund.

In response to their request, in September, Swanson presented commissioners with several possible options to curb the budget shortfalls, including:

-- reduce staff from 29 employees to 21 and maintain an in-house work force;

-- reduce staff to 12 employees and contract out most responsibilities;

-- reduce staff to 7 employees and go primarily to outside contracting.

Swanson said staff already has been reduced to 26 through natural attrition, but he does not expect additional reductions.


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