Lyon clears tentative budget | NevadaAppeal.com

Lyon clears tentative budget

by Nancy Dallas

YERINGTON — With purse strings pulled tight, Lyon County commissioners added few frills to their 2002-03 budget.

Faced with a dwindling ending fund balance and hesitant to raise taxes, fiscal restraint was key to balancing the $19 million general fund and $2.6 million road fund.

Expenditures for 2002-03 are listed at $850,000 more than revenues, leaving a projected ending fund balance of $1.2 million. This would leave $1.4 million less in the 2002-03 ending fund balance than in 2001-02.

“This budget reflects the county’s growth and the cost of tax abatements. Growth costs money,” Commissioner David Fulstone said.

To help cover the county’s share of costs at the five-county Western Nevada Regional Youth Center in Silver Springs, the board opted for a 2.3-cent tax increase, bringing the total assessment for the youth center to 5 cents. The $381,000 it will generate still leaves about $40,000 to come from the general fund.

The most difficult decisions centered a depleted road fund. With more roads to maintain, Road Division Manager Gary Fried is short on equipment, supplies and materials.

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“As you well know, the biggest crisis in this county is roads. Wherever I go, the issue is roads,” Fulstone noted. “Are we going to continue with roads the way we are going, are we going to do better, or are we going to do less? Roads really are one of the major responsibilities of county government.”

Voters may be asked if they are willing to approve a quarter- or half-cent sales tax increase to help pay for roads. But Fried and Public Works Director Chuck Swanson were more concerned with how to survive the next year or two.

The county will return three graders and two loaders when a three-year lease-purchase agreement ends in February, avoiding a balloon payment of $550,000. The board expressed hope additional funding would become available later in the year.

To resolve the remaining budget shortfall of approximately $70,000, Fried agreed to cut back wherever necessary.

In support of a sales tax proposal, Commissioner Bob Milz said, “We owe it to the people. If they feel strong enough about roads, I think they are going to vote for it. If not, I guess they are going to live with what we’ve got.”

The $1.4 million increase in general fund expenditures over the 2001-02 budget is due primarily to contracted 2.5 percent merit increases in employee salaries, an estimated 15 percent increase in health insurance and minor increases for services and supplies.

Comptroller Rita Evasovic said no cost-of-living increases for county employees are included in the budget. Both county and sheriff’s department contracts are under negotiation.

The board held a tight rein on new hires. Faced with more than $500,000 in personnel requests, only a long-awaited code enforcement officer and one full-time librarian for the Yerington branch were approved. Among requests turned down were five sheriff’s deputies and eight full- and part-time library employees.

Directed to find ways to make Public Works more efficient, Swanson’s budget puts county parks, town boards and cemeteries under the direction of Buildings and Grounds Manager Jack Moseby.

The plan includes replacement of local cemetery maintenance personnel in Silver Springs, Dayton, Fernley and Silver City with one full-time county employee. One full-time park maintenance employee will be added.

“It will be pretty much an even exchange of costs, but there has been no system of checks and balances in the past. It is hard to say at this time if it will be the same quality of work,” Swanson said.

With $110,000 available for leases, the board agreed to acquire 20 new vehicles, but delayed determining which departments will get them. The revenue is derived from brothel licensing fees.

A workshop will be held later to establish a budget for improvements to county facilities. A tentative budget must be submitted to the state by April 15. Changes may be made prior to a final budget May 20.